Abu Sayyaf Group

Founded in the early 1990s, the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) is a militant Islamist group with links to Al Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiyyah. Ostensibly, the group's goal is the establishment of an Islamic state governed by sharia law in the south Philippines and is responsible for the biggest act of terrorism in Philippine history after claiming credit for planting a bomb on a passenger ferry and sinking the vessel, killing more than 100 people in February 2004.

In practice, however, the ASG primarily uses terrorism for profit: kidnap-for-ransom, guerrilla warfare, mass-casualty bombings, and beheadings are particularly favoured tactics.

Recent Developments

In July 2014 and again in January 2016, the leader of ASG’s Basilan branch, Isnilon Hapilon, pledged allegiance to the leader of the Daesh, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. However, Daesh’s leadership in Syria has not yet announced its expansion into Southeast Asia.

In September 2015, twenty hooded armed men believed to be linked to ASG, kidnapped Canadian nationals Robert Hall and John Ridsdel, as well as a Norwegian national and Filipino national from the Oceanview Resort on Samal Island, Davao Region. Tragically, Ridsdel was beheaded in April 2016 followed by Hall being beheaded in June 2016.

Date modified: