Abu Sayyaf Group

The Abu Sayyaf Group is a Muslim terrorist organization based on Basilan Island, one of the southern islands in the Philippine archipelago. Since the mid-1990s, the group, whose origins are somewhat obscure, has carried out terrorist attacks in the Philippines, including a series of high-profile kidnappings in 2000 and 2001.

For centuries, the southern Philippines have had a substantial Muslim population. Sixteenth-century Spanish colonizers spread Christianity to the northern islands, treating the Muslims as a despised minority; the area has seen periodic violence ever since. Its people are among the poorest in the country. In the early 1970s, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) began a war of secession against the Philippine government. Although the fortunes of the MNLF and its splinter group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), have risen and fallen over the past 30 years, violence and lawlessness have been a ...

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