Friday, August 14, 2009
Abu Sayyaf still Philippines' most brutal terrorist group
The Abu Sayyaf group, whose members killed more than 20 Philippine troops in a battle this week, is accused of being a brutal terrorist organisation with links to foreign militants, including Al Qaeda. At least 23 soldiers and 20 Abu Sayyaf rebels were killed when the army raided a training camp run by the group in the southern
The fighting was the heaviest since at least 29 soldiers were killed in two separate clashes with the Abu Sayyaf in July and August 2007. The group is responsible for the Philippines' worst attacks since the 1990s, when it was formed by Islamic firebrand Abubakar Abdurajak Janjalani upon returning from Afghanistan where he fought Soviet forces alongside Osama bin Laden's forces.
Western intelligence agencies say a brother-in-law of bin Laden provided the seed money to help set up the Abu Sayyaf. (READ KERRY’S ‘CRESCENT MOON RISING’)
The US State Department has included the group in its list of foreign terrorist organisations, and while many of its key leaders have been either captured or killed in recent years, intelligence officials have admitted it would be next to impossible to totally eradicate its influence.
It was set up supposedly to fight for a Muslim state in the south of this Catholic nation.
The group is believed to be working with some 30 foreign militants from the Southeast Asian terror network Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) known to be in the south, including two bomb experts wanted for the 2002 night club bombings in Bali, Indonesia.
President Gloria Arroyo accepted an offer by US President George W. Bush to send Special Forces advisers to train Filipino troops in counter-terrorism. American troops have been in the south since 2003, and their help has led to the deaths of senior Abu Sayyaf leaders even as new ones have emerged.