Philippines: Abu Sayyaf Evolving

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August 7, 2012: Worldwide terrorism deaths were down 12 percent last year and successful Filipino counter-terrorism efforts were part of that. While several hundred Abu Sayyaf Islamic terrorists continue to operate in the south, that group is very much on the defensive and is gradually turning into gangsters just to survive. That would be coming full-circle because Abu Sayyaf was founded over a decade ago by MILF rebels (seeking an autonomous or independent Moslem south) going rogue (as many do, to become bandits) and taking up the cause of Islamic radicalism. That did not work out too well but caused a lot of death and mayhem.  

August 6, 2012: In the south a MILF splinter group (BIFF, for Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters) attacked eleven army checkpoints, leaving two dead and several wounded. BIFF contains about a thousand armed men and MILF insists it will crush this two year old dissident group. That has not happened yet.

August 3, 2012: The commander of army troops on Basilan Island was removed, apparently because of a recent clash with an Abu Sayyaf ambush that left ten soldiers dead. The army commanders in that action misjudged the strength of the force they were attacking.

In the south (Sulu) an Abu Sayyaf ambush killed four, including a local police chief.

The U.S. government asked that China obey international law in the South China Sea (which China claims all of, except for areas about 22 kilometers from the coast of other nations). International law gives all nations control over fishing and oil drilling 380 kilometers off their coasts. China refuses to obey this rule (which it had once agreed to). In response to the American reminder, the Chinese called the U.S. a trouble maker.

August 2, 2012: In the south (Misamis Oriental) two NPA rebels were killed during a clash with troops. NPA continues its extortion campaign against mining companies in the south.

August 1, 2012: In the south someone tossed a grenade at a catholic church on Sulu Island.

July 29, 2012: In the south police arrested one of the founders (Ustadz Ahmadsali Asmad Badron) of Abu Sayyaf.

July 28, 2012: More soldiers arrive in the south (Zamboanga), in order to increase the pressure on Abu Sayyaf.

July 26, 2012: On Basilan Island Abu Sayyaf gunmen and soldiers clashed, leaving ten soldiers dead and wounding seventeen. At least nine Abu Sayyaf men were also killed.

 

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