The original title of this paper by Dr. Rommel C. Banlaoi published here in full is "Abu Sayyaf Group's Persistence Under the Duterte Administration: A Chronological Analysis of Crime-Terror Nexus in the Southern Philippines and the ISIS Connection in Southeast Asia".  Dr. Banlaoi is the Chairman of the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research (PIPVTR) and Director of its Center for Intelligence and National Security Studies (CINSS). He teaches at the Department of International Studies, Miriam College, the Philippines. He finished his BA and MA in Political Science at the University of the Philippines where he took his PhD in Political Science (ABD status). He acquired his PhD in International Relations at Jinan University, China.




This article is a chronological analysis of the persistence of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) as a non-state armed group involved in crime and terrorism. Despite efforts to defeat the ASG by various Philippine governments, the group continues to survive under the Duterte administration by conducting many criminal acts, particularly kidnap-for-ransom operations. The also ASG persists in pursuing bombing operations in the Philippines. Thus, the ASG falls under the nexus of crime and terrorism.   Previously linked with Al Qaeda, the ASG has pledged allegiance to ISIS, which provides this homegrown-armed group from the Southern Philippines a fresh outlook to justify its violent acts.   Pursuing a comprehensive counter-measures to deal with the crime-terror threats of the ASG is one of the major security challenges facing the Duterte administration.




Because of its recent violent activities, the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) is in the spotlight of international discussions again. Its brutal beheading of Canadian victim, John Ridsdel on 25 April 2016, its gruesome encounter with the Philippine military in Basilan on 9 April 2016, its odious kidnapping of four Malaysian nationals off the waters of Sabah on 1 April 2016, its landmark abduction of ten Indonesian nationals on 26 March 2016 (and their eventual release on 1 May 2016), and its latest pledge of allegiance to Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) on 4 January 2016, among many others, have raised anew the ASG’s international notoriety as a violent extremist group actively operating in the Southern Philippines and its adjacent waters in Southeast Asia.


The ASG’s growing abhorrent behavior has prompted many foreign embassies in the Philippines to raise their security warnings and travel advisories in the country, particularly in Mindanao. The deterioration of safety situation of tourists and sea workers in the shared maritime borders of the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia also encouraged the three governments to level up their trilateral maritime security cooperation in order to address the escalating threat of the ASG in the triborder area.


Since the September 11, 2001 (9/11) terrorist attacks, the United States has consistently tagged the ASG as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). But the Philippine government continues to downplay the status of the ASG as a mere bandit or criminal group.  Some scholars have already debated on whether the ASG is a terrorist group or just a criminal organization.[i] But there seems to be no end to the debate in sight because of limited understanding of the ASG’s nebulous character.


This paper contends that viewing the ASG as a mere bandit group or just a terrorist organization is like looking erroneously at the proverbial glass that is either half full or half empty. The ASG has, in fact, effectively mutated into a hybrid violent group that arguably falls under the complex nexus of crime and terrorism. Using a chronological analysis, this paper argues that the ASG through the years has acquired a schizophrenic violent personality that steadfastly navigates the murky spectrum of crime and terrorism. The ASG has ingeniously developed a dubious multiple character that exhibits both the nasty attitude of a criminal organization and the virulent behavior of a terrorist group.


In other words, the ASG resiliently exists in an intricate crime-terror continuum where the ASG’s enormous involvements in crimes have created a new genre of terrorism in the post-modern world.[ii] Thus, some scholars have called the ASG a post-modern terrorist group that is deeply involved in both crime and terrorism.[iii]  Having been linked with Al-Qaeda and now with ISIS, the ASG has undoubtedly acquired the label of an international terrorist group.[iv] But the ASG as a terrorist group has strongly established links with criminal groups and lawless elements in its areas of operation in the Southern Philippines.   The ASG, itself, has also resorted to a lot of criminal and unlawful activities, particularly kidnap-for-ransom and extortion, to survive and thrive. Grappling with the myriad of threats currently posed by the ASG, therefore, needs a comprehensive and nuanced approach that addresses both the ASG’s criminal nature and terrorist character. In short, countering the ASG threat urgently requires a new knowledge of the ASG in the context of crime-terrorism nexus.




It is customary to differentiate criminal organizations from terrorist groups in terms of their strategic goals and operational tactics. Conventional wisdom tends to advance the idea that criminal organizations are more interested in money and parochial economic gains. Terrorist groups, on the other hand, are more interested in politics and lofty ideological or religious goals. There is even a legal argument saying that terrorism is inherently a criminal offense. Others regard crime as inherently a terroristic act because of its very traumatic effects on victims and the larger society.


Beyond efforts to dichotomize crime and terrorism, there is a perceptual agreement among experts, scholars and laypersons that both indisputably are bad things.[v] Crime and terrorism are both anathema to peace and they pose imminent threats to public order. They are evil twins, so to speak.[vi] They are the bad guys in the neighborhood. They share malevolent similarities in terms of their definitional ambiguity, social constructions, cross-disciplinary boundaries, perpetrator demographics and ability to undermine social trusts.[vii] But technically speaking, terrorism stringently differs from usual crimes because of the following observations:

•Terrorism is not a specific offense

•Terrorism crosses jurisdictional boundaries

•Terrorists seek public recognition

•Terrorists operate toward a broader goal “altruists”

•Terrorists innovate[viii]


On the one hand, deeper examination reveals that terrorism is also conceptually similar to specific crimes because of the following factors:

•Organizational Structure

       - Organized crime, Gang activity, corporate crime

•Sustained Program of Violence

        - Organized crime, Gang activity, Serial murder

•Victim Selection

        - Mixture of targeted versus convenient

        - Personal versus impersonal[ix]


Because the line between crime and terrorism has increasingly become so blurred,[x] recent academic literatures have disclosed increasing interests on their nexus studying relationship and cooperation among criminal organizations and terrorist groups. Studying Hezbollah’s links with the Los Zetas Drug Cartel[xi] and the Medellin drug traffickers’ use of terror tactics “tocoercethegovernment into abandoningitspolicyofextraditingdrugtraffickersto theUnited States”[xii] are just examples growing academic interests on crime-terrorism nexus.


However, there is a strong contention that cooperation between criminal organizations and terrorist groups does not automatically yield a firm nexus because of some anomalies in other cases. Nonetheless, it is argued, “some grounds exist for suspecting that criminal organizations and terrorist groups are, in some cases, forging closer links with oneanother.”[xiii] As aptly observed by a scholar, “Both terrorist and criminal organizations operate in the same underworld, and often in the same geographic area or weak state; they have similar needs in terms of false documentation, weapons, and money; and each type of organization could find advantage in forging closer links with the other.” [xiv]


As a result, there is an increasing research interest examining the relationship between criminal organizations and terrorist groups. There are even studies investigating instances of criminal organizations using terrorist methods and terrorist groups engaging in organized crimes.[xv] The Al-Qaeda, for example, forged links with various crime networks to mobilize resources in a limited scale as it opted to run its own criminal enterprises to have more stable sources of funds.[xvi]  Even ISIS has been involved in various transnational organized crimes to fund its own global reign of terror.[xvii]


The ASG also intractably exhibits the complex feature where crime and terrorism become two sides of the same coin. The ASG is in the “gray area phenomenon” where crime becomes integral to terrorist operations and where terror becomes essential in the commission of crimes.[xviii] The ASG is at the intersection of crime and terror, so to speak.[xix] Like other violent groups elsewhere, the ASG has a Janus face of crime and terrorism. Understanding this ambiguous face is essential for the development of an innovative counter-measure to overcome the constantly evolving ASG threat.






Many publications have already been released to describe the emergence of the ASG. But many of these publications have sadly failed to really examine the ground origin of the ASG and the right context of its development as a violent group engaged in both crime and terrorism. Conspiracy theorists stressed that the ASG was the creation of the Philippine military to infiltrate Muslim resistant groups in the Southern Philippines for the purpose of “divide and rule”. Others suspected the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) as the main creator of the ASG because of its Al Qaeda connection.


But a more nuanced analysis of its evolution indicated that the ASG was actually a homegrown creation of   Abdurajak Janjalani who originally founded the ASG in 1989 in his hometown in Basilan, Southern Philippines. When he established the ASG, Abdurajak Janjalani had the decisive political intention to establish an “independent Islamic State” in Mindanao.[xx] As a voracious reader, Abdurajak Janjalani acquired the idea of Moro independence from various history books describing the struggle of Muslims in the Philippines for freedom.[xxi] He also learned a lot from leaders of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), which during his time was the largest Muslim resistant group in the Southern Philippines founded and still chaired by Nur Misuari. Abdurajak Janjalani joined the MNLF when it was created in the early 1970s because he believed that Muslims in Mindanao (called Moros) should enjoy their rights to self-determination through political independence or separation from the Philippines.


But when the MNLF entered into a peace negotiation with the Philippine government in the mid-1970s to implement the idea of Muslim autonomy, Abdurajak Janjalani started to mingle himself with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the first splinter group of the MNLF.  The MILF formally separated from the MNLF in 1976 when the Philippine government signed the Tripoli Agreement, which mandated the creation of autonomous Muslim government in Mindanao. When he studied Islamic courses in Libya and Saudi Arabia in the 1980s, he associated himself more with many MILF members.


Abdurajak Janjalani was more comfortable with the MILF being more “Islamic” in orientation than the MNLF being more “secular” in outlook.  The MILF, in fact, sent Moro Mujahideen to Afghanistan in the 1980s to join the Talibans in driving away the former Soviet Union. He joined this group of Moro Mujahideen with the encouragement of MILF leaders. But contrary to other studies, he failed to actually reach Afghanistan.   He only stayed in Peshawar, Pakistan where he met a lot of Talibans and Al-Qaeda leaders. It was in Peshawar where he read so much about jihad, Islamic revolution, and ideas of Sayyid Qutb. He also learned about the “living legend” of Abdul Rassul Sayyaf, a well-known Taliban warlord associated with Al-Qaeda of Osama bin Laden. Abdurajak Janjalani admired Abdul Rassul Sayyaf so highly that when he returned to Basilan in the late-80s, he used the nom de guerre, Abu Sayyaf, in his writings, sermons and fatwas.


While in Pakistan, Abdurajak Janjalani got actively involved in various activities of Jamaat Tabligh, a pious religious group doing Islamic propagation worldwide. Thus when he returned to Mindanao, he organized a local version of Jamaat Tabligh in Basilan. Using his own Tabligh group, he preached in Zamboanga City, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi until he became popular as an Ustadj with a new outlook. His popularity led him to organize a core group of “freedom fighters” adhering to Salafi Islam, a transnational Muslim faith that he acquired from his foreign travels.[xxii] He called this group of freedom fighters as the Al Harakatul Al Islamiyyah (AHAI) or the Islamic Movement. Within the AHAI was an armed group called Mujahideen Al-Sharifullah, which the Philippine military mistakenly called as the Mujahideen Commando Freedom Fighters (MCFF) in various intelligence reports. Most members of the AHAI originally came from the disgruntled members of MNLF and the MILF operating in Zamboanga City, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.[xxiii] Because the AHAI and the MCFF were personally associated with Abdurajak Janjalani, many labeled his group as the ASG, the group of Abu Sayyaf or simply, the group of Ustadj Abdurajak.


For his followers, therefore, the ASG was a genuine resistant group – a group of freedom fighters and a movement of Moro revolutionaries. As such, the ASG got involved in a lot of violent activities like bombings, ambuscades, assassinations, and guerilla operations. The ASG members learned their firefighting capabilities from their ancestors who fought Spanish colonial rule for almost 400 years. The ASG acquired its modern bomb-making skills from foreign fighters associated with Al Qaeda[xxiv] and Jemaah Islamiyyah (JI).[xxv]  The well-known Al Qaeda operative sent to the Southern Philippines to help organize the ASG was Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, the brother-in-law of Osama bin Laden.[xxvi]


During the early stages of the ASG, the group carried out many violent attacks that were certainly hallmarks of terrorism than crime. The ASG’s landmark terrorist attack was the August 1991 bombing of Motor Vehicle (MV) Doulos, a Christian missionary ship conducting some religious projects in Zamboanga City. It was during this attack that Abdurajak Janjalani publicly announced the existence of the ASG.   The ASG attacked the MV Doulos as a vehement “retaliation" against Christian missionaries who used derogatory words against Islam and called Allah a false God.”[xxvii]


The ASG started to gain international notoriety as a terrorist group in May 1992 when it brutally assassinated Fr. Salvatore Carzedda, an Italian priest pursuing missions in Zamboanga City. In April 1995, the ASG pursued its massive and historic terrorist attacks when it was identified to be the main group responsible for the violent raid of around 200-armed men in Ipil town of Zamboanga Sibugay where 100 persons died including the town chief of police. As a result of the Ipil raid, Philippine government ordered a manhunt against Abdurajak Janjalani, until he was killed in 1998 in a violent encounter with law enforcement authorities in Lamitan, Basilan.






In the aftermath of Abdurajak Janjalani’S death, the ASG degenerated into a bandit group that was deeply engaged in what a scholar would call a “carnival of crime”.[xxviii] From an outlaw with a hitherto political agenda,[xxix] the ASG became a new entrepreneur in violence because of its iniquitous involvements in moneymaking activities using its skills in the use of violence, particularly bomb making, as the main capital.[xxx] 


With the loss of an ideological beacon to guide the group’s original jihadist mission, the ASG got wilder as a violent group like a loose cannon. It rapidly deteriorated as a criminal organization under the leadership of Abdurajak Janjalani’s younger brother, Khadaffy Janjalani.  Under Khadaffy Janjalani, a more criminally minded sub-commanders like the late Commanders Robot, Abu Sabaya, and Kosovo became the proverbial tail that wagged the dog in the ASG’s new leadership arrangement.


The ASG’s main moneymaking activity was kidnapping-for-ransom (KFR). The ASG masterminded many KFR incidents in Mindanao under the new leadership. But its most publicized KFR activities were the March 2000 attacks of primary schools in Tumahubong, Basilan,[xxxi] the April 2000 attack of a beach resort in Sipadan,[xxxii] Malaysia, and the May 2001 attack at the Dos Palmas beach resort in Palawan.[xxxiii]


Since Khadaffy Janjalani took the helm in 1998, the ASG has been involved in a lot of KFR activities targeting both local and foreign victims. Between the years 2000 and 2001 alone, the ASG kidnapped a total of 140 persons being ransomed.[xxxiv] Between 1992 and 2008, the ASG earned a total of US$35 million from ransom payments of its kidnap victims, including the case of Philippine television journalist, Ces Drillon.[xxxv] In January 2009, the ASG conducted another high-profile kidnapping operation when it abducted three workers of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Though Philippine authorities recorded no case of big kidnapping case by the ASG in 2010 after the killing of Commander Albader Parad responsible for the ICRC abduction, the Philippine Anti-Kidnapping Group, however, listed 105 cases of kidnapping operations by the ASG in 2011-2015 involving 183 victims both Filipinos and foreign nationals combined.[xxxvi] In 2015 alone, the ASG collected a ransom payment of around P151 million or US$3.3 million from its victims. [xxxvii]


Involvement of the ASG in KFR operations is not really new. The ASG has already conducted some KFR activities since its infancy stage in the 1990s. But its KFR activities during its early period had some political intentions. For example, when the ASG kidnapped in April 1993 Luis Biel, a five-year grandson of a bus company owner in Basilan, the ASG demanded for his release the removal of all Catholic symbols in the province. When it kidnapped in August 1993 Ricardo Tong, a prominent shipyard owner in Zamboanga City, the ASG demanded for the banning of all foreign fishing vessels operating in the waters of Sulu and Basilan.   When family of Mr. Tong paid a ransom of Five million Philippine pesos (around US$100,000) for his safe release, the ASG immediately bought powerful firearms and ammunitions, explosive materials and mortar tubes.


The ASG was also able to build its manpower using money from ransom payments.  From a ragtag non-state armed group of only around 30 members in 1989, the ASG was able to develop an effective army of around 250 members by the end of 1994.   The ASG was able to recruit some MILF fighters who were trained in Afghanistan during the war against the former Soviet Union. Through the help of Jamal Khalifa, Bin Laden’s main emissary to the Philippines, the ASG was also able to train its local fighters in guerilla warfare and commando operations with reported additional seed money of US$6 million from Al Qaeda.[xxxviii] With some Al Qaeda funds, Jamal Khalifa also established an Islamic school in Marawi City called Darul Imam Shafee where key ASG young leaders, including Khadaffy Janjalani, received training in extreme interpretation of jihad.


These military training and Islamic indoctrination activities prepared the ASG to carry out the Ipil raid in April 1995, as briefly mentioned earlier. By 1996, the ASG already built its international image as a fierce terrorist group in Mindanao. It was the same year when the Philippine government and the MNLF signed the Final Peace Agreement, which justified the creation of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). The ASG vehemently opposed the ARMM because it demanded the creation of an independent Islamic state in Mindanao. This original idea of Islamic state made it easier to succumb to the current Islamic propagation of ISIS.


But as mentioned earlier, the death of the ASG founder in 1998 started the demise of the ASG as a “freedom fighter” with a label of a terrorist group. When a new leader took the helm, ASG’s penchant for KFR has grown exponentially.[xxxix] From 1999 to 2006, the ASG under Khadaffy Janjalani became seemingly no more than a bunch of bandits pursuing KFR activities involving almost 200 victims.  The ASG’s KFR operations became even bolder from 2007 to 2015 under the leadership of Radullan Sahiron, the ASG Commander based in Sulu. Puruji Indama, ASG sub-commander in Basilan, also joined the KFR spree.


While many of the ASG activities under Khadaffy Janjalani were on KFR, there was a faction of the ASG in Basilan convincing the new ASG leader not lose tract of its original political purpose. Two ASG commanders, Khair Mundos[xl] and Isnilon Hapilon, sustained the ASG’s Islamic propagation activities by training younger Muslims (particularly those orphaned by armed conflicts) to strengthen their Islamic faith. Though Mundos and Hapilon also joined some of the ASG’s kidnapping activities, the two continued to advance the ASG’s Islamist agenda. Mundos and Hapilon strengthened their links with some JI operatives in Mindanao - particularly with Dulmatin and Omar Patek from Indonesia as well as Marwan from Malaysia and Mauwiyah from Singapore. ASG and JI militants joined forces in order to realize their dream of creating a Daulah Islamiyah or the Islamic caliphate in Southeast Asia.






Thus, after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States, the ASG resumed momentarily its terrorist activities by conducting series of bombing operations not only in Mindanao but also in Metro Manila.   At the same time, ASG continued its KFR activities in Mindanao.[xli]  The ASG’s nexus with crime and terrorism took greater shape after 9/11.


It should be noted, however, that a year before 9/11, series of bomb explosions occurred in five locations in Metro Manila on the eve of Rizal Day celebration on 30 December 2000. Called the 2000 Rizal Day bombings, five blasts took place in Plaza Ferguson in Malate, Manila; a gasoline station near Dusit Hotel in Makati City; a cargo handling area of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport; a public bus traveling along Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue; and, a train cab at the Blumentrit Station of the Metro Manila Light Rail Transit. Though the ASG was not responsible for these bombings, the incidents inspired the ASG as they were carried out by JI master-bomber, Fathur Rahman Al Ghozi, and rouge elements of the MILF: Mukhlis Hadji Yunos, Abdul Fatak Paute, and Mamasao Naga.  Some ASG bombers acquired their bomb-making skills from Al Ghozi.


After the Rizal Day bombings, the ASG suspended in 2003 its KFR activities upon order of Khadaffy Janjalani who wanted to revive the ASG’s original Islamist agenda. But other ASG commanders, particularly those based in Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, became addicted in amassing more wealth from KFR than pursuing bombing operations for political purposes.   Thus, many of its members still resorted to KFR in order to mobilize resources. Nonetheless, Khadaffy Janjalani ordered some members of the ASG to join a series of bomb training activities through the help of top JI operatives: Dulmatin, Omar Patek, Marwan and Basit Usman.


Through joint trainings from JI, many ASG members and affiliates already acquired sophisticated bomb-making skills. Using its affiliates from Rajah Solaiman Islamic Movement (RSIM), the ASG masterminded the bombing of MV Superferry 14 on 27 February 2004. This incident (described at that time as the worst maritime terrorist attack in Southeast Asia) killed 116 people and wounded at least 300 others.[xlii]   The ASG claimed responsibility for the bombing as a “just revenge” for the brutal murder of Muslims in Mindanao.


There was a claim, however, arguing that the ASG bombed the ferry because the ferry company refused to pay the extortion money demanded by the ASG. Thus, some experts regarded the bombing as “piratical” rather than a terrorist attack. By deeper examination, in fact, the Superferry 14 bombing marked the ASG’s nexus with maritime crime of piracy and maritime terrorism.[xliii]


On 14 February 2005, the ASG conducted a high profile bombing operation when it masterminded the simultaneous bombings of three cities (Makati, Davao and General Santos) on Valentines Day. The trio bombings resulted in the death of 11 persons and the injury of 83 others. The ASG officially claimed responsibility for the 2005 Valentines Day bombings. The late Abu Solaiman, then ASG spokesman, announced on radio that the ASG conducted those bombings to fight for justice of Muslims in Mindanao. In his statement, Abu Solaiman stressed, “We will find any means to inflict more harm to your people’s lives and properties, Allah willing. We will not stop until we get justice for the countless Muslim lives and properties that your people have destroyed. May the almighty Allah punish your nation again through our hands.”[xliv]


The Valentines Day bombing and other violent activities of the ASG convinced the Philippine government to implement its “Oplan Ultimatum” that justified the deployment in August 2006 of around 6,000 Philippine soldiers to Sulu in order to hunt Khadaffy Janjalani other JI operatives, particularly Dulmatin and Patek. The Oplan Ultimatum resulted in the death of Khadaffy Janjalani and Solaiman in January 2007.[xlv] With the demise of Khadaffy Janjalani, the ASG lost again a central leader that would provide the political direction to the organization. At that time, the Philippine government declared the ASG a spent force.


But in August 2007, around 30 ASG militants ambushed a military convoy in Jolo, Sulu killing 26 soldiers with others gruesomely beheaded and decapitated. This occurred despite the signing into law of Philippine Anti-Terrorism Law (called Human Security Act) in March 2007.  In January 2008, ASG operatives raided a convent in Tawi-Tawi and killed a Catholic priest in a kidnapping attempt to scare Christian missionaries in the province. On 14 February 2008, the ASG planned to assassinate then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo who ordered to crush the ASG by 2010, but to no avail. On 11 June 2010, just two days after the Philippine Congress proclaimed Benigno Simeon Aquino III as the new President, the ASG beheaded three Christian loggers in Basilan as a resentful retaliation against military offensives there. The ASG also participated in the bloody military encounter between the Philippine Army and the MILF on 17 October 2011 in Al Barka, Basilan where 19 soldiers died. These violent incidents indicated that the ASG was still engaged in various acts of terrorism.


But on 5 December 2011, the ASG conducted another high profile KFR activity when its members kidnapped Australian national Warren Rodwell at Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay.  On 26 December 2012, just a day after Christmas, the ASG uploaded on YouTube a proof-of-life video of Rodwell crying for help and begging for his life after more than a year in captivity. The ASG demanded US$2 million for his release.


Rodwell’s video was a landmark in the history of the ASG because for the first time, the group utilized the social media for its KFR venture. The ASG also displayed in the video a black flag associated with ISIS. The ASG released Rodwell only on 23 March 2013 after receiving a ransom payment from the sale of the family house of the victim.[xlvi] Some sources said that the family paid an initial ransom of P5 million (around US$120,000). But the ASG only received P1.5 million (around $35,000). A local politician, who negotiated for Rodwell’s release, allegedly pocketed the rest of the money.[xlvii]


The ASG mounted another high profile kidnapping activity with the abduction of birdwatchers Ewold Horn (Dutch) and Lorenzo Vinciguerra (Swiss) on 1 February 2012 in Tawi-Tawi. The ASG demanded a ransom of P50 million (US$1.1 million) for the release of both victims. But Vinciguerra escaped on 6 December 2014. Horn remained in the hands of the ASG as of this writing.


On 12 June 2012, the ASG kidnapped another foreign national, Baker Atyani, a Jordanian journalist at Pan-Arab Al Arabiya News Channel based in Dubai.   Because the ASG asked no ransom payment for his release, there was a suspicion that the he was a guest of the ASG to launder some funds for the group using a media interview as a cover.[xlviii] But the ASG reportedly accused him of being an agent of the CIA.[xlix]   Atyani claimed, however, that he was allowed to interview ASG commanders in their lairs in Sulu when the group suddenly held him as hostage. He claimed to have escaped from his captors on 4 December 2013. But others claimed that the ASG voluntarily released him after mounting several kidnapping operations not only in Mindanao but also in Sabah.


On 15 November 2013, the ASG kidnapped Chang An Wei, a Taiwanese woman, and killed her husband, Lim Min Hsu, in a beach resort in Pom Pom Island off Sabah.   Authorities reported that they recued the victim a month after. But there was an allegation of ransom payments for her release.   On 2 April 2014, the ASG attacked Sabah again when it kidnapped Gao Hua Yan (a Chinese tourist) and Marcy Dayawan (Filipina resort worker) at the Singamata Adventures Reef and Resort in Semporna. The ASG demanded a ransom payment of USD$11 million for their release. But authorities claimed to have rescued the victims on 31 May 2014 through the combined operations of Malaysian and Filipino forces.


The ASG made another very disturbing kidnapping operation when it kidnapped a German couple (Viktor Stefan Okonek and Henrike Dielen) on 25 April 2014 while having a boat trip in Palawan Island.   Their abductors brought them to Jolo in the lairs of the ASG. On 24 September 2014, the ASG uploaded a video on Facebook and YouTube showing the two German victims crying for help. The video displayed again the black flag of ISIS and threatened to behead one of the victims if the ransom demand of P250 million (US$5.6 million) would not be paid. The ASG also demanded the German government to stop its support to the coalition forces against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. 


The abduction of the German couple was the second time that the ASG used the social media and the black flag of ISIS in its KFR operation.   On 17 October 2014, the ASG released the two Germans. On 4 November 2014, it uploaded another video on Facebook with a tantamount display of what it claimed was the P250-million ransom it collected for the release of two victims.


Though the ASG seemed to have collected huge sum of money already from their kidnap victims, the ASG (particularly members operating in Sulu and Tawi-Tawi) continued its KFR operations in Sabah while other ASG members, at the same time, were pledging their allegiance to ISIS.   On 6 May 2014, the ASG kidnapped Yang Zhai Lin, a Chinese fish farm manager in the Baik Island of Semporna, and took him to Jolo. After the ASG threatened to behead him, the group freed him in July 2014 after receiving a ransom payment.   On 16 June 2014, the ASG kidnapped Chan Sai Chiun, another Chinese fish farm manager, in Kampung Air Sapang, Kunak, and Sabah. The ASG threatened to behead the victim again but released him on 10 December 2014 after receiving the ransom payment. 


On 15 May 2015, the ASG attacked the Ocean King Restaurant in Sandakan, Malaysia and abducted two Malaysian Chinese victims: Thien Nyuk Fun, the seafood restaurant owner, and Bernard Then, a consultant. Earlier on 4 May 2015, the ASG kidnapped two personnel of the Philippine Coast Guard – Rodilyn Pagaling and Gringo Villaluz - and a barangay captain, Rodrigo Boligao, in Aliguay Island in Zamboanga del Norte. The three were brought to Sulu.   The ASG released Thien on 8 November 2015 when his family paid a ransom of P30 million (around US$660,0000).   The group beheaded Boligao on 12 August 2015 and Bernard on 17 November 2015 for some anomalies associated with the ransom.  The two Coast Guard personnel, on the other hand, reportedly escaped on 19 August 2015.


So far, the most internationalized kidnapping operation of the ASG after 9/11 was the abduction on 21 September 2015 of Robert Hall (Canadian), John Ridsdel (Canadian), Kjartan Sekkingstad (Norwegian) and Marites Flor (Filipina) at the Holiday Oceanview Resortin the Island Garden City of Samal, Davao del Norte.   It was in this kidnapping incident when the ASG intensified its use of social media to demand for ransom payments of its victims.


Using the black flag of ISIS as its backdrop, the ASG posted a video on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube on 12 October 2015 showing the four kidnap victims begging for their lives. In this video, the ASG did not ask yet for ransom but demanded the Canadian and Philippine governments to cooperate with abductors arguing:


I deliver a message to the Canadian government and to the Philippine government. Once your cooperation with us and to meet all the requirements (sic). Number one, that there must be no military operation and there must be no artillery attack and all of this harmful against us. Once you meet our requirements, then we can talk about negotiation and demand.[l]


On 3 November 2015, posted another video on social media demanding P4 billion (US$84 million) for the release of four hostages and set 8 April 2016 as the deadline to produce the money. When the money was not delivered as scheduled, the ASG released another video lowering its ransom demand to P300 million (US$6.3 million) for each victim and scheduled 25 April 2016 at 3:00 PM as the new deadline for payment. The ASG threatened to execute its victims without the ransom payments. Failing to get the complete ransom payments on time, the ASG beheaded Ridsdel at 4:00 PM on 25 April 2016. 


The ASG released the video of Ridsdel beheading on 3 May 2016, the same day when the ASG released a separate video demanding for ransom payments of the three remaining victims and threatening to behead them. In this video, the ASG stressed, ““Notice to the Philippine government and to the Canadian government: The lesson is clear. John Ridsdel has been beheaded.”[li]


The beheading of Ridsdel raised anew the international profile of the ASG.   When it abducted ten Indonesian nationals in the waters of Tawi-Tawi in March 2016 and four Malaysian nationals in the waters of Sabah on 1 April 2016, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines decided to conduct coordinated patrols of their triborder maritime areas to confront the ASG. After five weeks in captivity, the ASG released the ten Indonesians on 1 May 2016.


More than a decade after 9/11, the ASG was able to demonstrate it was not yet a spent force but a strong force to reckon with.   Based on the aforementioned discussions, the ASG proved its resilience as a violent group by doing both crime and terrorism.[lii]   Its resilience grew further with the introduction of new ideas from ISIS. Money coming from KFR and new religious outlook coming from ISIS became essential sources of the ASG’s current staying power.




It is not yet very clear how and when ISIS reached the lairs of the ASG. But the awesome power of social media provided ISIS a very powerful tool to spread its narrative worldwide.[liii] Many ASG members, particularly those younger ones, were social media savvy making them reachable by ISIS propaganda. ISIS followers from Malaysia, Indonesia and the Middle East entering Mindanao also contributed to the spread of ISIS ideology in the Philippines. After years of degeneration as a bandit group, the ASG rekindled its penchant for terrorism because of ISIS connection in Southeast Asia.[liv]


The formation of ISIS was traced back to 1999 when an Iraqi militant, Abu Musab al Zarqawi, organized the Jama’at al Tawhid Wal Jihad (Organization of Monotheism and Jihad).[lv] In 2004, Zarqawi pledged his allegiance to Al Qaeda and renamed his group to Tanzim Qaidat Al Jihad Fi Bilad Al Rafiadayn (Organization of Jihad’s Base in Mesopotamia) more known now as the Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). The AQI provided a new face of Al Qaeda because of its very violent attacks against American-led coalition forces in Iraq.[lvi]


When Zarqawi died in 2006 by an American air strike in Iraq, Abu Ayyub Al Masri succeeded him. Al Masri merged with other Iraqi militant groups, which declared the establishment of the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) naming Abu Omar al-Baghdadi as its Emir with Al Masri serving as its Minister of War. [lvii] ISI became so popular among Sunni militants in Syria and other parts of the Middle East because of its indiscriminate use of violence against coalition forces.  Its popularity made the group a serious target of sustain counter-terrorism operations of the coalition forces that led to the killing of Abu Omar Al Baghdadi and Al Masri in 2010.


Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi took the helm of ISI. Under his leadership, he became more violent and draconian in its operations encouraging suicide and car bombings to confront the coalition forces. When ISI operations expanded to Syria, Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi declared in April 2013 the formation of the ISIS. On 29 June 2014, Baghdadi proclaimed himself as the overall leader or a Caliph of a so-called independent ISIS Caliphate, which followers would call as Al-Dawlah Al-Islamiyah Fi Al-Iraq Wa-Al Sham. Many Sunni militant groups worldwide pledged allegiance to ISIS including those militant groups in the Southern Philippines.[lviii]


The first group in the Philippines that pledged allegiance to ISIS was a shadowy group called Ansar Dawlah Fi Filibbin. This group posted a video in May 2014 showing a few men in white dress performing a Bay-ah, or oath of allegiance, to Baghdadi as a caliph. Men on video spoke in Filipino to reiterate their allegiance to ISIS and submission to Baghdadi.[lix]


The ASG also pledged allegiance to ISIS in June 2014 through Isnilon Hapilon, the group’s commander in Basilan.[lx] While ASG commanders in Sulu and Tawi-Tawi were busy making money through KFR activities, Hapilon was busy organizing ISIS-inspired groups of militants in Mindanao.


But even before Hapilon pledged his allegiance, ISIS influences in the Philippines were already spreading in 2012 through some militant activities of the so-called “Black Flag Movement” (BFM).[lxi] This movement was initially identified with a shadowy group known by the Philippine intelligence authorities as the Khilafah Islamiyah Mindanao (KIM). The KIM was composed of younger Filipino Muslim militants associated with the ASG, the MILF, the RSIM, and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF). Thus, the KIM initially served as the hub of young Filipino Muslim militants inspired by ISIS ideology.


The known leader of the KIM was Humam Abdul Najid who styled himself like Zarqawi based on various photographic evidences collected by a Philippine intelligence agency.   Between 2012 and 2013, Najid worked closely with Patek, Marwan and Usman in conducting bomb-training activities in Central Mindanao in the lairs controlled by the BIFF, a splinter group of the MILF. Najid went to Afghanistan in 2005 to receive various trainings in waging jihad. When he returned to his hometown in Marawi City in Lanao del Sur in January 2012, he introduced the black flag currently being used by ISIS.


With the support of younger militant members of the ASG, RSIM, MILF and BIFF, Najid discreetly organized the BFM whose members would form the core of the KIM. The Philippine police identified the KIM as the group responsible for the July 2013 Cagayan de Oro bombing that killed 6 persons and wounded 48 others. The group was also responsible for the 16 August 2012 bombing of the Rural Bus Transit in Barangay Guiwan, Zamboanga City. On 11 October 2012, the KIM carried out the bombing of Maxandrea Hotel along JR Borja Street in Cagayan de Oro City. Police investigations revealed that Zulkipli bin Hir (alias Marwan), a JI operative in the Philippines, guided KIM in the Maxandrea Hotel bombing. On 24 December 2012, the group orchestrated the bombing of Pension House in Iligan City. The KIM blatantly used the ISIS black flag in all of its bombing operations and bomb-training activities. Thus, the KIM was thought to be the vanguard of ISIS in the Philippines.


But the use of ISIS black flag in the Philippines actually first appeared publicly on a video released on 6 November 2012 by a certain Abu Jihad Kahir Rahman Al Luzuni who claimed to be representing a jihadist group of young Muslims in the Philippines called Jamaal Al Tawhid Wal Jihad Philippines.[lxii] Apparently, members of this group claimed that they belonged to the Philippine branch of Jamaal Al Tawhid Wal Jihad, the forerunner of ISIS, originally founded in Iraq by Zarqawi. The video, showing a man with a covered face against the backdrop of an ISIS flag, called upon all Muslims, particularly the Muslim youths in the Philippines, to perform jihad.


Intelligence investigations by the Philippine authorities would later identify the man on video as Dinno Amor Rosalejos Pareja. The United Nations listed Pareja on 4 June 2008 as an Al Qaeda associated individual being one of the key leaders of the RSIM. Pareja received bomb-making training from JI in several ASG camps. He was accused of a failed attempt to bomb Cebu City during the 12th Summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2007. Pareja was also one of the prime suspects for the Makati Bus Bombing on 1 March 2012. Pareja’s Facebook account pompously displayed a black flag that later on would be associated with ISIS.


Interestingly, Pareja was the brother-in-law of Ahmad Santos, the founding chairman of the RSIM. Santos married Pareja’s younger sister named Hannah. The Philippine police arrested Santos in 2005 for terrorist bombings and criminal charges associated with terrorism. At the time of his arrest, Ahmad was already serving as the media bureau chief of the ASG indicating the RSIM-ASG link. While in Philippine prison, Santos continued his militant activities along with other Muslim detainees accused of various crimes associated with terrorism.   Ahmad even participated in the translation in Filipino language of an Al Qaeda document on Muslim prisoners of war. With the help of some JI detainees, Santos even led in prison the pledge of allegiance to ISIS, the video of which was uploaded on YouTube on 4 July 2014. 


Santos is also the brother-in-law of Reener Dongon, one of the key leaders of the KIM. Reener is the younger brother of Norrain Dongon, the second wife of Santos.   Reener actively participated in various bombing operations of the KIM being an expert on the manufacture of improvised explosive device (IED). Reener got this skill from his brother-in-law, Marwan who married the former’s older sister, Joromee Dongon. Interestingly, Joromee was also the former wife of the late ASG chief, Khadaffy Janjalani.


Thus, Santos, Reener, Marwan and Khadaffy Janjalani are not only brothers-in-arms but also brothers-in-law. Their family relationships solidified the ties that bound the ASG, RSIM, JI, and KIM. Islamic militancy is all in the family.


In collaboration with ASG, RSIM, JI and KIM outside of prison, Santos and Pareja were prime suspects for the constructions of some websites promoting the black flag of ISIS in the Philippines. Some of these websites were the Black Flag Movement[lxiii] and the Islamic Emirate of the Philippines.[lxiv] All these websites contained Filipino language translations of some Al Qaeda documents and inspirational messages from the late Umbra Kato, the founding chairman of BIFF. In July 2012, core members of the KIM with a few members from ASG visited Kato who died of heart attack on 14 April 2015. Kato’s successor, Esmail Abu Bakar, pledged allegiance to ISIS as early as August 2014.


On 12 September 2014, another shadowy group calling itself as Ansar Khalifah Sarangani (AKS) produced its own video pledging allegiance to ISIS. Led by the late Basit Usman, the AKS was more known by its followers as the Jemaah Islamiyah Philippines. When Usman died on 3 May 2015, he left behind some followers whom he trained in bomb making. Usman’s deputy, Mohammad Jafar Maguid (alias Commander Tokboy) took the helm of AKS and renamed the group as Ansar Khalifah Philippines (AKP).


The AKP (represented by Abu Shareefa believed to be Commander Tokboy) together with the ASG (called as Alharakatul Islamiyya represented by ISIS follower Isnilon Hapilon) and two other groups called Ansar Al Sharia (represented by a Malaysian ISIS follower, Abu Anas Al-Muhr, a.k.a. Mohammad Bin Nib Bin Hussein) and Marakat Al Ansar (represented by a certain Abu Harris, an ISIS-inspired ASG member representing Sulu), performed a “unified” pledge of allegiance to ISIS in December 2015 in a ceremony held in Basilan. A video of this ceremony was posted on YouTube in January 2016.


In the ceremony, the four groups declared its unity and proclaimed Hapilon as their over-all leader or Amir with the official title, “Sheikh Mujahid Abu Abdullah Al-Filipini”. ISIS official newsletter, Al Naba, praised the unification ceremony and acknowledged Hapilon as the over-all leader of ISIS followers in the Philippines. One academic argued that with the unification ceremony, the Philippines has become a candidate for an ISIS wilayah or province in Southeast Asia along with Indonesia and Malaysia where significant ISIS followers were identified.[lxv]


With many armed groups in Mindanao pledging loyalty to Baghdadi as their over-all caliph, ISIS threats to Philippine security have become real rather than imagined.[lxvi]  In fact, some foreign nationals, previously linked with Al Qaeda and now linked with ISIS, are currently in Mindanao working with the various armed groups in the conflict affected areas. As of the first quarter of 2016, Philippine intelligence sources identified nine ISIS-linked foreign terrorists still operating in Mindanao with the ASG, to wit:


•Muhammad Ali Bin Abd Al Rahman or Muawiya (Singaporean)

•Zacariah or Qayyim (Indonesian)

•Abdul Azis Raman (Indonesian)

•Abdul Malek Yamen (Indonesian)

•Mohd Amin Bacho or Abu Jihad (Malaysian)

•Mujammad Joraimee Bin Awang Raimee or Abu Nur (Malaysian)

•Mahmud Bin Ahmad or Abu Handzalah (Malaysian)

•Jeknal Bin Adil (Malaysian)

•Engr Hattab (Malaysian).[lxvii]


Muhammad Nib Hussein (Abu Anas), another ISIS-linked Malaysian national died in December 2015 during an ASG encounter with the Philippine military in Al Barka, Basilan. The Al Furat Media, an ISIS media outlet in Russia, released a video of his death on 15 February 2016. 


Philippine authorities are also suspecting at least 60 ISIS-inspired foreign terrorists being coddled by the ASG in Mindanao.[lxviii] These foreign terrorists are not only involved in the ASG’s bomb-training activities. They also participate in the ASG’s criminal activities. The case of Amin Bacho is an example of foreign terrorist involvement in ASG’s criminal activities, particularly in KFR.[lxix]


Philippine intelligence reports revealed Bacho’s involvement in the abduction of several victims from Sabah. Bacho is also the son-in-law of Commander Hajan Sawadjaan, mastermind of several high profile kidnapping activities of the ASG. While in Mindanao, Bacho released a video in April 2016 pledging allegiance to ISIS with armed men associated with ASG and AKP.[lxx] Along with other ISIS-inspired foreign terrorist personalities in Mindanao, Bacho is being suspected to be the main ISIS operative in Southeast Asia linking the ASG with Katibah Nusantara, an ISIS military unit in Southeast Asia led by an Indonesian militant, Abu Ibrahim al-Indunisiy.[lxxi]




From the foregoing chronological analysis, the ASG has already morphed into a violent group engaged in both crime and terrorism. Its high profile kidnapping activities made the ASG an organized criminal group. But its association with ISIS and its involvement in major bombing and other violent activities in the Philippines also made the ASG a terrorist organization.


As a criminal organization, the ASG is interested in amassing wealth that it uses to attract members and to buy loyalty of its affected communities. As a terrorist group, the ASG is involved in political propaganda and publicity stunts to justify its violent acts. The Philippines government has been struggling to decimate the ASG. But the ASG has the ability to regenerate itself because of its resilience to navigate between crime and terrorism.


There is no doubt that the ASG provides an excellent example of a complex nexus of crime and terrorism. This growing nexus must therefore, inform the development of any comprehensive counter measure against the ASG.


13 May 2016

Quezon City

The Philippines


[i]For a discussion on this debate, see Soliman M. Santos, Jr. and Octavio A. Dinampo, “Abu Sayyaf Reloaded: Rebels, Agents, Bandits, Terrorists (Case Study)” in Soliman M. Santos and Paz Verdades M. Santos, et al. Primed and Purposeful:  Armed Groups and Human Security Efforts in the Philippines (Geneva: Small Arms Survey, 2010), pp. 115-138.


[ii]Tamara Makarenko, “The Crime-Terror Continuum:  Tracing the Interplay Between Transnational Organized Crime and Terrorism”, Global Crime, Volume 6, Number 1 (February 2004), pp. 129–145. 


[iii]Walter Lacquer, “Post-Modern Terrorism: New Rules for an Old Game”, Foreign Affairs, Volume 75, Number 5 (September-October 1996), pp. 24-36.


[iv]Sarah E. Tilstra, “Prosecuting International Terrorists:  The Abu Sayyaf Attacks and the Bali Bombing”, Pacific Rim Law and Policy Journal, Volume 12, Number 3 (May 2003), pp. 835-836.


[v]For an excellent discussion on this topic, see Laura Dugan, “Terrorism and Crime: Their Similarities, Differences, and Lessons Learned” (19 September 2012) at <accessed on 3 May 2016>.


[vi]Frank S. Perri, Terrence G. Lichtenwald and Paula M. MacKenzie, “Evil Twins:  The Crime-Terror Nexus”, The Forensic Examiner (Winter 2009), pp. 16-29.


[vii]Dugan, “Terrorism and Crime: Their Similarities, Differences, and Lessons Learned”, op. cit.






[x]Thomas M. Sanderson, ‘‘Transnational Terror and Organized Crime: Blurring the Lines,’’ SAIS Review, Volume 24, Number 1 (Winter-Spring 2004), pp. 49–61.


[xi]Daniel Valencia, “The Evolving Dynamics of Terrorism:  The Terrorist-Criminal Nexus of Hezbollah and The Los Zetas Drug Cartel”, INSS 5390 (Fall 2014). 


[xii]Phil Williams, “Organized Crime and Terrorism”, LACC Working Paper, No. 2 (2014).


[xiii]Ibid., p. 3.




[xv]Julia Pulido Gragera and Daniel Sanso-Rupert Pascual, “A Phenomenological Analysis of Terrorism and Organized Crime from a Comparative Criminological Perspective”, Journal of Law and Criminal Justice, Volume 2, Number 2 (December 2014), p. 117.


[xvi]Peng Wang, “The Crime-Terror Nexus:  Transformation, Alliance, Convergence”, Asian Social Science, Volume 6, Number 6 (June 2010), p. 12.


[xvii]See Howard J. Shatz, :”How ISIS Funds its Reign of Terror:  Plain and Simple, It’s a Criminal Gang”, New York Daily News (8 September 2014).


[xviii]Bruce Hoffman, Inside Terrorism (New York: Columbia University Press, 1998), p. 27.


[xix] James J. F. Forrest, ed., Intersections of Crime and Terror (London and New York: Routledge, 2003).


[xx]For more discussions on the origin of the ASG, see Rommel C. Banlaoi, Al Harakatul Al Islamiyyah:  Essays on the Abu Sayyaf Group, 3rd Edition (Quezon City:  Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research, 2012), Chapter 1.


[xxi]See NAbdurajak Janjalanieeb M. Saleeby, Studies in Moro History, Law and Religion (Manila:  The Filipiniana Book Guild, 1905) and NAbdurajak Janjalanieeb Saleeby, The Moro Problem: An Academic Discussion of the History and Solution of the Problem of the Philippine Government of the Moros of the Philippine Islands (Manila: EC McCulloiugh & Company, 1913).  Also see Cesar MAbdurajak Janjalaniul, Muslims in the Philippines (Quezon City:  University of the Philippines Press, 1973).


[xxii]For more discussions on the effect of transnational Islam in the Philippines, see Rommel C. Banlaoi, “Transnational Islam in the Philippines” in Peter Mandaville, Farish A. Noor, Alexander Horstmann, Dietrich Reetz, Ali Riaz, Animesh Roul, Noorhaidi Hasan, Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid, Rommel C. Banlaoi, and Joseph Chinyong Liow, Transnational Islam in South and Southeast Asia: Movements, Networks, and Conflict Dynamics (Washington DC: National Bureau of Asian Research, 2009), pp. 167-188. 


[xxiii]Banlaoi, Al Harakatul Al Islamiyyah:  Essays on the Abu Sayyaf Group,, pp. 34-35.


[xxiv]For the ASG’s link with Al Qaeda, see Rohan Gunaratna, Inside Al-Qaeda: Global Network of Terror (New York: Columbia University Press, 2002).


[xxv]For the ASG’s link with JI, see Zachary Abuza, Militant Islam in Southeast Asia: Crucible of Terror (Boulder, Colorado:  Lynne Rienner Publishers, Inc., 2003).


[xxvi]For more discussions on the role of MJK in the Philippines, see Maria Ressa, Seeds of Terror: An Eyewitness Account of Al-Qaeda’s Newest Center of Operations in Southeast Asia  (New York: Free Press, 2003).


[xxvii]Samuel K. Tan, Internationalization of the Bangsamoro Struggle  (Quezon City: University of the Philippines Center for Integrative and Development Studies, 1995), p. 94.


[xxviii]Kit Collier, “A Carnival of Crime:  The Enigma of the Abu Sayyaf” in Patricio N. Abinales and Nathan Gilbert Quimpo, eds., The US and the War on Terror in the Philippines (Manila: Anvil Publishing Inc. 2008), pp. 151-172.


[xxix]Charles Frake described ASG members as “outlaws with agenda”.  See Charles Frake, “Abu Sayyaf:  Displays of Violence and the Proliferation of Contested Identities among Philippine Muslims”, American Anthropologist, Volume 11, Number 1 (1998), pp. 41-54.


[xxx]Eric Gutierrez, “New Faces of Violence in Muslim Mindanao” in Kristina Gaerlan and Mara Stankovitch, eds., Rebels, Warlords and Ulama:  A Reader on Muslim Separatism and the War in Southern Philippines (Manila:  Institute for Popular Democracy, 2000), pp. 349-362.


[xxxi]For an excellent account of this incident, see Jose Torres, Into the Mountains:  Hostaged by the Abu Sayyaf (Quezon City: Claretian Publications, 2001).


[xxxii]For an excellent account of this incident, see Werner Wallert, Hostage Terror:  Abducted by the Abu Sayyaf (Singapore:  Marshall Cavendish, 2009).


[xxxiii]For an excellent account of this incident, see Gracia Burnham and Dean Merrill, In the Presence of My Enemies (New York: Living Books/Tyndale House Publishers, 2004). 




[xxxv]McKenzie O’Brien, ‘Fluctuations Between Crime and Terror: The Case of Abu Sayyaf’s Kidnapping Activities’, Terrorism and Political Violence. Volume 24, Number 2 (2012), pp. 320-336.


[xxxvi]Joint Armed Forces of the Philippines-Philippine National Police Intelligence Committee (JAPIC), “Trend of ASG Kidnapping Incidents, 2011-2015” (March 2016).


[xxxvii] Ibid.


[xxxviii]Special Investigation Group, Intelligence Command of the Philippine National Police, Special Report:  The Islamic Fundamentalist/Extremist Movements in the Philippines and Their Links with International Terrorist Organizations (December 1994).


[xxxix]Samuel A. Smith, “Financing Terror:  Kidnapping for Ransom in the Philippines”, Strifeblog (26 January 2015) at <accessed on 5 May 2016>.


[xl] Khair Mundos is presently in jail after being  re-arrested on 11 June 2014. He was first arrested in 2004 but managed to escape while on trial in 2007.


[xli]Rommel C. Banlaoi, “The Abu Sayyaf Group:  From Mere Banditry to Genuine Terrorism” in Daljit Singh and Lorraine Salazar, eds., Southeast Asian Affairs 2006 (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2006), pp. 247-262.


[xlii]For more discussions, see Rommel C. Banlaoi, “Maritime Terrorism in Southeast Asia:  The Abu Sayyaf Threat”,  Naval War College Review, Volume 58, Number 4 (Autumn 2005).


[xliii]See Rommel C. Banlaoi, “The Abu Sayyaf Group:  Threat of Maritime Piracy and Terrorism” in Peter Lehr, ed., Violence at Sea:  Piracy at the Age of Terrorism (New York and London:  Routledge, 2007), pp. 121-138.


[xliv] Cecil Morella, “Abu Sayyaf Claims Valentines Day Bombings”, AFP (14 February 2005).


[xlv] For  a brief analysis of Oplan Ultimatum, see International Crisis Group, The Philippines: Counter-Insurgency vs Counter-Terrorism in Mindanao (Asia Report Number 152,  14 May 2008), pp. 15-17.


[xlvi]For a personal account of the incident, see Bob East, 472 Days Captive of the Abu Sayyaf:  The Survival of Australian Warren Rodwell (London: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2015).


[xlvii]For an account of this controversy, see Glenda Gloria and Maria Ressa, “The Inside Story: Ransom and Rodwell”, Rappler (originally published on 23 March 2013 and updated on 26 April 2016).


[xlviii] “Atyani: Guest or Captive” at (21 June 2012) <accessed on 9 May 2016>.


[xlix]Anthony Vargas, “Abu Sayyaf Suspected Atyani as CIA Operative”, Manila Times (17 December 2013).


[l] SITE Intelligence Group, “Philippines Jihadi Group Shows Four Hostages in New Video” (13 August 2015) at <accessed on 9 May 2016>. 


[li]Elena Aben, “ASG Threatens Samal Hostages,” Manila Bulletin (5 May 2016).


[lii]For more discussions, see Rommel C. Banlaoi, “The Sources of Abu Sayyaf’s Resilience in the Southern Philippines”, CTC Sentinel (3 May 2010).


[liii]Daniel Cunningham, Sean Everton and Robert Schroeder, Social Media and the ISIS Narrative (Monterey, CA:  Naval Postgraduate School, 2015).


[liv] Zachary Abuza, “Joining the New Caravan:  ISIS and the Regeneration of Terrorism in Southeast Asia”, Strategic Studies Institute Newsletter (25 June 2015).


[lv]Cunningham, Everton and Schroeder, Social Media and the ISIS Narrative p. 2.


[lvi]Jean-Charles Brisard, Zarqawi:  The New Face of Al Qaeda (New York: Other Press, 2005).


[lvii]Cunningham, Everton and Schroeder, Social Media and the ISIS Narrative, p. 2.


[lviii]For detailed discussions, see Rommel C. Banlaoi, “Self-Proclaimed ISIS Followers in the Bangsamoro Homeland:  Threats to Philippine Security” (Cotabato City: Institute for Autonomy and Governance, 22 July 2015) at <accessed on 7 May 2016>.


[lix]Rommel C. Banlaoi, “ISIS Threats to Philippine Security”, Rappler (11 July 2014).


[lx]Rommel C. Banlaoi, “ISIS Threats and Followers in the Philippines”, Rappler (5 August 2014).


[lxi]Maria Ressa, “9/11 and the Black Flag Movement”, Rappler (4 August 2014).


[lxii]Rommel C. Banlaoi, “ISIS Threats and Followers in the Philippines”, Rappler (5 August 2014).


[lxiii] See URL


[lxiv] See URL


[lxv]See Rohan Gunaratna, “The Islamic State’s Eastward Expansion”, The Washington Quarterly, Volume 39, Number 1 (Spring 2016), p. 59.


[lxvi]Rommel C. Banlaoi, “ISIS Threats to Philippine Security”, Rappler (11 July 2014).


[lxvii]Joint Armed Forces of the Philippines-Philippine National Police Intelligence Committee (JAPIC), “Identified Foreign Terrorists” (March 2016).


[lxviii]Joint Armed Forces of the Philippines-Philippine National Police Intelligence Committee (JAPIC), “Watchlisted Foreign Terrorists” (March 2016).


[lxix]For a newspaper account of the activities of Amin Bacho, see  “Mohd Amin Bacho: A Terrorist and Cruel Killer”, The Star Online (15 August 2013).


[lxx]Than Kam Chuan, “IS Influences Expand Into Southeast Asia”, Asia News Network (7 April 2016).


[lxxi]For more discussions, see Jasminder Singh, “Katiban Nusantara:  Islamic State’s Malay Archipelago Combat Unit”, RSIS Commentary, Number 126  (26 May 2015).