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Terror Groups - Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG)

Background:

The Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) emerged in the late 1980's in the Mujahiddin camps of Afghanistan during the Afghan war against the Soviets. The group represents an extreme wing of the Muslim inhabitants of the island of Mindanao (Southern Philippines) which violently pursues an Islamic autonomy in the islands. It was founded by Abd al-Razek Janjelany in the Afghan "Sadah" camp which belonged to Abd al-Rasul Sayyaf's "Al Itihad al-Afghani" group. The camp served as a melting pot for different Islamic entities and warriors that volunteered to fight in Afghanistan, providing a platform on which numerous ties were formed between ASG members and other radical groups.

Within this framework, the ASG cooperated with the Ramzi Yousef group during the late 1994 "Bojinca plot" (The group claimed responsibility for the Ramzi Youseff bombing of PAL flight 434 to Tokyo) and later on with the Jemmah Islamiah. When Khaled Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), another "Saddah graduate" and member of the Ramzi Youseff group, joined Al-Qaeda in 1999 and became head of Al-Qaeda's special operations unit, he used his former connections with the ASG. As a result, the group changed its targeting policy and began to carry out large-scale attacks against local and western targets in the Philippines, including kidnappings for ransom, bombings and assassinations.

Current Status:

The ASG is responsible for some of the deadliest terror acts that hit the Philippines in the last few years, including the bombing of the super ferry in Manila Bay (February 2004, 132 dead) and the Valentine's day bombing in Manila (February 2005, 8 dead). It is known to have substantial links to Jemaah Islamiya (JI) and factions of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and still poses a serious threat to both western and local targets in the Southern Philippines.
 

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