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The Abu Sayyaf Group: From Mere Banditry to Genuine Terrorism
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Rommel C. Banlaoi  

Rommel C. Banlaoi is a Professor of Political Science at the National Defense College of the Philippines, where he previously served as Vice President for Administrative Affairs and Assistant Vice-President for Research and Special Studies.


This article does not represent the official position of the Department of National Defense, the National Defense College of the Philippines, or any agency of the Philippine government.

1. For earlier attempts, see Rohan Gunaratna, "The Evolution and Tactics of the Abu Sayyaf Group", Janes Intelligence Review, July 2001; Glenda Gloria, "Bearer of the Sword: The Abu Sayyaf Has Nebulous Beginnings and Incoherent Aims", Mindanao Updates, 6 June 2000; and Mark Turner, "Terrorism and Secession in the Southern Philippines: The Rise of the Abu Sayyaf", Contemporary Southeast Asia 17, no. 1 (June 1995): pp. 1-19.

2. Eusaquito P. Manalo, "Philippine Response to Terrorism: The Abu Sayyaf Group" (MA thesis, Naval Post Graduate School, Monterey, California, December 2004), p. 3; Mark Turner, "The Management of Violence in a Conflict Organization: The Case of the Abu Sayyaf", Public Organization Review 3, no. 4 (December 2003): 394.

3. Dorian Zumel Sicat, "Transcript of Interview with Elmina Abdul, Widow to Edwin Angeles Taken at Basilan Community Hospital General Ward Isabela City, Province of Basilan Republic of the Philippines", 10 March 2002, http://www.okcbombing.org/News%20Articles/deathbed_confession.htm (accessed 14 November 2005).

4. Mirian Coronel Ferrer, ed., Peace Matters: A Philippine Peace Compendium (Quezon City: University of the Philippines Center for Integrative and Development Studies, 1997), p. 218.

5. Jose Maria Sison, US Terrorism and War in the Philippines (Manila: Aklat ng Bayan, 2003), p. 37.

6. Marites D. Vitug and Glenda M. Gloria, Under the Crescent Moon: Rebellion in Mindanao (Quezon City: Ateneo Center for Social Policy and Public Affairs, Institute for Popular Democracy and Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, 2000), p. 217.

7. For a complete copy of the report, see "Basilan: The Next Afghanistan?" (report of the International Peace Mission to Basilan, Philippines, 23-27 March 2002), http://www.bwf.org/pamayanan/peacemission.html (accessed 30 August 2004).

8. Department of National Defense, "Info Kit on the Abu Sayyaf Group" (presentation before the hearing of the Senate Committee on National Defense and Security at the Philippine Senate, Pasay City, 30 August 2001).

9. See, for example, Graham H. Turbiville, Jr., "Bearer of the Sword", Military Review, March/April 2002, pp. 38-47.

10. Jose Torres, Jr., Into the Mountain: Hostages by the Abu Sayyaf (Quezon City: Claretian Publications, 2001), p. 35.

11. "Special Report on the Abou Sayaff" (briefing of MIG9 during the Southern Command Conference, 19 January 1994).

12. Jason Burke, Al-Qaeda: Casting a Shadow of Terror (London: I.B. Tarus, 2003), p. 101.

13. For a detailed account of the Bojinka Plot, see Rommel C. Banlaoi, War on Terrorism in Southeast Asia (Quezon City: Rex Book Store International, 2004); Maria Ressa, Seeds of Terror: An Eyewitness Account of Al-Qaeda's Newest Center of Operations in Southeast Asia (New York: Free Press, 2003); Zachary Abuza, Militant Islam in Southeast Asia: The Crucible of Terror (London: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2003).

14. Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, Knowing the Terrorists: The Abu Sayyaf Study (Quezon City: General Headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, 2002), p. 1.

15. Carlyle Thayer, "Political Terrorism in Southeast Asia", Pointer: Quarterly Journal of the Singapore Armed Forces 29, no. 4 (October-December 2003): 58.

16. Samuel K. Tan, "Beyond Freedom: The Juma'a Abu Sayyaf (Assessment of Its Origins, Objectives, Ideology and Method of Struggle)", in Internationalization of the Bangsamoro Struggle (Quezon City: University of the Philippines Center for Integrative and Development Studies, 2003), revised edition, p. 94.

17. Ibid., p. 96.

18. Zachary Abuza, Balik-Terrorism: The Return of the Abu Sayyaf (Carlisle, PA: Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College, 2005), pp. 2-11.

19. Julkipli M. Wadi, "Philippine Political Islam and the Emerging Fundamentalist Strand", in Cooperation and Conflict in Global Security, edited by Carmencita C. Aguilar (Quezon City: International Federation of Social Sciences Organization, 1996), p. 210.

20. Salamat Hashim, The Bangsamoro People's Struggle Against Oppression and Colonialism (Camp Abubakre: Agency for...