Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Abu Sayyaf growing in strength?

Or at least more dangerous according to this story from the Manila Bulletin.

Recently some Malaysians were arrested for trying to cross illegally into the Filipines. Apparently the were Jemmah Islamiya operatives trying to connect with the Abu Sayyaf counterparts. The report indicates Abu Sayyaf is not quite ready to pull of a bombing on the scale of Bali but it is not too far from that point. The article seriously questions the idea that Abu Sayyaf is on the ropes.

For those of you not in the know about Abu Sayyaf here is the quick and dirty of Abu Sayyaf. Abu Sayyaf is a Filipino Islamic terror group that purportedly aims to create an Islamic state in the southern Filipines.

When the Spanish first arrived in the Filipines Islam was just arriving. It had taken solid root in the southern islands but not in the central and northern islands. Christianity was able to drive it out of those central and northern islands but never completely from the southern islands. There are two larger groups working for Muslim autonomy in the South and these are the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Abu Sayyaf sprung from the MNLF.

Abu Sayyaf operates mainly in the south and into Malaysia. They get their funding from kidnapping and extortion and have kidnapped people from the Filipines as far north as Palawaan (Martin and Gracia Burnham US missionaries were kidnapped from Palawaan) and from Malaysia. They also carry out bombing and armed attacks. The most infamous attacks came in 1995 and in 2004. In 1995 they attacked the city of Ipil and 54 civilians were murdered and in 2004 they blew up a ferry killing 187 people.

So Abu Sayyaf hooking up with Jemmah Islamiya is a serious problem. They have caused enough misery as it is and now they are getting serious training.

HT to The Command Post for highlighting the Manila Bulletin story.