Abu Sayyaf, A Government?

Abu Sayyaf, a guerilla group is centered around Islam and is based in the southern Philippines. It wants to separate from the leadership of the Philippines and seek a place where the Moro people can live. They are mostly known for high level illegal activities like the assassinations of high level government officials. These acts have earned Abu Sayyaf the name of the most brutal group in the Philippines. The groups founder, Khadaffy Abubakar Janjalani, traveled to Middle Eastern Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia and Libya. He studied the Iranian Revolution in 1988, and he met Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, where it is rumored he fought with him against the Soviet Invasion. This is where he was inspired to transform the Philippines into a Muslim state. Since their creation Abu Sayyaf has been operating under the pretense that they aim to turn the Philippines into a primarily Muslim state. They do this by committing violent attacks on tourists and well off Filipinos. To the naked eye this might appear as a guerrilla group terrorizing the country and bullying them into submission; However, Abu Sayyaf operates in a structured hierarchy, operating with branches of their group carrying out attacks based on each of the branches input. This means that Abu Sayyaf is actually trying to be more of a government, rather than just a terrorist group.

It all starts back at the creation of the group with the leader, Janjalani. Janjalani’s sole purpose of the group was to govern the nation of the Philippines under Muslim rule. Janjalani was known for being a preacher. He fought in the Soviet-Afghan war, and it is rumored that he got incredibly inspired at a meeting with Osama Bin Laden. Al-Qaeda provided the group with the necessary resources and training to get off the ground.  After he died the gang separated into two factions, which were quickly extinguished when the leaders of both groups got killed. Since then the group is now in smaller subgroups, but connected by one man, Radullan Sahiron.

This can even be seen by their recent attacks. Fighting started in Marawi on the southern section of the island Mindanao, in 2017. They burned churches, jails and schools before taking bridges and main streets. The churchgoers and police were then beheaded. This seems like a clearcut guerilla act,  just looking at the killings, but this act shows that they can have the power to take towns for themselves,something that a well regulated militia can do. They are a segregated group, muslims in the Philippines, and they govern within their own group. The group is split up into several sections within its hierarchy. It is led by a group of generals, in a structure where the longer someone shows their allegiance to the group, the more power they have. This can clearly be seen with the newest leader elected, Sahiron. Sahiron was an original member of the Majilis Shura, a council of 14 generals who controlled major decisions. They also have a select leader, this would be the closest to the executive branch. The executive appoints major generals to help execute specific tasks. The executive, just like our president, has final say on military operations. They have their own military, which is grown by Abu Sayyaf’s own military scouts, who attend classrooms prayer sessions which draw right from the Koran, calling for the children to fight with the group.

With all these comparisons it is easy to see the similarity between any government and theirs. However, all this is undercut by the fact that they commit terrible atrocities that makes the group appear completely uncivilized to the public. This is why it makes the most sense for Abu Sayyaf to relate back to their roots, the Moro Liberation Front. The MLF is a less extreme group that shares the same values as Abu Sayyaf, but believes there is a more less extreme way for the Philippines to recognize a muslim section of their country. This is why Abu Sayyaf should denounce ISIS and rejoin the MLF, for the better of their own group and the better of the Philippine people.

Abu Sayyaf appears to be a guerrilla group, blatantly attacking tourists and Filipinos for fame and fortune, but they do desire to become a government. Abu Sayyaf has a split leadership allowing them to check each other and let the group run the way that the majority likes. They do commit heinous acts like beheading, but this is only to gain respect from other countries and to let the group financially stay afloat. They use violence as a way to propel conversations towards letting the Muslims have their own state in the Philippines and the more attention they direct to the topic, the higher chance there is that they can establish their own country. Abu Sayyaf is a guerrilla group, but it is clear that they desire to become a country, no matter what the means, the reward is worth it.

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