Search News Posts
Five Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) terrorists were killed on 11 April during an armed confrontation with the Filipino security forces at the outskirts of Barangay Napo, Inabanga in Bohol province, Central Visayas. Four security forces were also killed during the gunfight. The incident took place when civilians reported the presence of three suspicious pump-boats to the police. The three boats were carrying 10 well-armed ASG members, revealed to be a known kidnapping cell of ASG and were en route to a remote area of the resort island when intercepted. The dead ASG militants include Abu Rami (Muamar Askali), a sub-commander and spokesman linked to many of their kidnap-for-ransom operations. Five of the ten ASG members remain at large.
ISS Risk Assessment
Impact to Clients
Abu Sayyaf Group Kidnappings
In 2016, marine seajacking of sailors was ASG’s preferred strategy after multiple land kidnappings in Sabah, Malaysia and southeastern portion of Mindanao in 2014-15 brought intense military operations on their Sulu archipelago strongholds. Although they had clear success in seajacking operations in 2016, early 2017 has seen the Philippine Navy intercept and foil attempted attacks. A move to parallel kidnap-for-ransom operations is a prudent and sound strategic decision. The Philippine military and police force’s inability to recover kidnapping victims, payment of ransoms by companies / insurers, and extremely limited ability to curtail ASG’s kidnapping activities to date will not hamper their revenue ambitions.
As well as being a revenue generator for the wider ASG entity, the ASG-Basilan faction under Isnilon Hapilon are looking to relocate to Central Mindanao in line with wider ISIS-backed ambitions for a more defensible ‘wilayat’ (province) in the country. To affect this strategy and achieve buy-in from the Maute Group or BIFF will be expensive. ISIS’ emir in the Philippines, Hapilon, will therein only re-prioritize kidnapping operations.