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The Abu Sayyaf Group
: جماعة أبو سياف
; , ASG
), also known as al-Harakat al-Islamiyya
is one of several militant Islamist separatist
groups based in and around the southern islands of the Philippines
, in Bangsamoro
, and Mindanao
) where for almost 30 years various Muslim groups have been engaged in an insurgency for a state, independent of the predominantly Catholic Philippines
. The name of the group is derived from the Arabic ابو, abu
("father of") and sayyaf
("Swordsmith"). The group calls itself "Al-Harakat Al-Islamiyya" or the "Islamic Movement". The name Abu Sayyaf was derived from the kunya
adopted by Abdurajak Janajalani when he named his oldest son Sayyaf, thereby becoming Abu Sayyaf or the father of Sayyaf. Abdurajak named his son after the Afghan mujahid
commander Rasul Sayyaf who ran the training camp he attended in Afghanistan.
Since its inception in the early 1990s, the group has carried out bombings, kidnappings, assassinations, rapes and extortion in what they describe as their fight for an independent Islamic state in western Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago with the stated goal of creating a pan-Islamic superstate across southeast Asia, spanning from east to west; the island of Mindanao, the Sulu Archipelago, the island of Borneo (Malaysia, Indonesia), the South China Sea, and the Malay Peninsula (Peninsular Malaysia, Thailand and Myanmar). The Abu Sayyaf Group seeks a 13 province autonomous region, free from the predominately Catholic government of the Philippines.
The U.S. Department of State has branded the group a terrorist entity by adding it to the list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations.
Location and view on Abu Sayyaf
Until his death in a gunbattle on September 4, 2006, Khadaffy Janjalani was considered the nominal leader of the group by the Armed Forces of the Philippines. His older brother Abdurajik Abubakar Janjalani, the founder of Abu Sayyaf, died in December 1998. Confirmation of Khadaffy's death was officially confirmed on January 20, 2007, through DNA analysis of both brother's remains. Both were natives of Isabela City, currently one of the smallest and poorest, or so-called "5th-class" cities of the Philippines. Located on the north of the island of Basilan, Isabela is also the capital of Basilan province, across the Basilan Strait from Zamboanga City. But Isabela City is administered under the Zamboanga Peninsula political region north of the island of Basilan, while the rest of the island province of Basilan is now (since 1996) governed as part of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to the east.
Consequently, being on the social or political division line, Isabela City and Basilan island have seen some of the fiercest fighting between government troops and the Muslim separatist group Abu Sayyaf through the early 2000s.
The ASG primarily operates in the southern Philippines with members occasionally traveling to Manila. It is reported that ASG has begun expanding into neighbouring Malaysia and Indonesia by the early 2000s.
The ASG is the one of the smallest but strongest of the Islamic separatist groups in Mindanao. Some ASG members have allegedly studied or worked in Saudi Arabia and developed ties to mujahadeen while fighting and training in the war against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
Abu Sayyaf pro-claimed themselves as mujahideen and freedom fighters but are not provided support by many people in Moroland including Muslim clerics.
Abu Sayyaf is estimated to have a core membership of 200 with an extended membership of over 2000.The ASG's low numbers indicate a lack of support among the local population.
The group was originally not thought to receive funding from outside sources, but intelligence reports from the United States, Indonesia, and Australia have found intermittent ties to the Indonesian Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist group. The Philippine government considers ASG to be allied with Jemaah Islamiyah and notes that initial funding came from al-Qaeda through the brother-in-law of Osama bin Laden, Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, through Islamic charities in the region. Continuing ties to Islamist groups in the Middle East indicate that al-Qaeda may be continuing support.
State Supporters and Other Sources of Funding
The group obtains most of its financing through ransom and extortion. One report estimated its revenues from ransom payments in 2000 alone between $10 and $25 million. According to the State Department, it may also receive funding from radical Islamic benefactors in the Middle East and South Asia. "Libya was a conduit for ransoms paid to Abu Sayyaf and other Filipino Muslim groups...[Libya] also offered money for ‘livelihood projects’ in its role in the 2000 hostage negotiations...this raises the possibility that Libyan money gets channeled to Abu Sayyaf.".
Connections with Foreign Organizations
Links between ASG and Al Qaeda are the subject of debate. It is generally believed that the group received funding from Al Qaeda in the early 1990s through Mohammad Jamal Khalifa, a brother-in-law of Osama bin Laden. Al Qaeda collaborator Ramzi Yousef operated in the Philippines in the mid-1990s and reportedly trained Abu Sayyaf fighters. However, there is little information about recent cooperation between Al Qaeda and ASG. Some have claimed that Abu Sayyaf is subordinate to Al Qaeda, but others contend that because of the group’s blatant use of ransom and extortion for profit, a close association between the two is unlikely. The 2002 edition of the U.S. State Department’s Patterns of Global Terrorism does not mention any ties to Al Qaeda.
Though Janjalani’s first recruits were dissidents from the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), radical Islamic groups in the Philippines, such as the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the MNLF, deny having links with Abu Sayyaf. Both distance themselves from ASG because of its attacks on civilians and its profiteering. The Philippine military, however, has claimed that elements of both groups provide support to Abu Sayyaf.
In the early 1970s, the Moro National Liberation Front
(MNLF) was the main Muslim rebel group fighting in the Basilan and Mindanao region of the southern Philippines.
Abdurajik Abubakar Janjalani, the older brother of Khadaffy Janjalani, had been a teacher from Basilan, who later studied Islamic theology and Arabic in Libya, Syria and Saudi Arabia during the 1980s. Abdurajik then went to Afghanistan to fight against the Soviet Union and Afghan Marxist government in the Soviet war in Afghanistan. During that time, he is alleged to have met Osama Bin Laden, and been given $6 million to establish a more Islamic splinter group of the MNLF in the southern Philippines, made up of members of the extant MNLF.
By then, as a political solution in the southern Philippines, ARMM had been created, in 1989.
Abu Sayyaf Group under Abdurajik Janjalani
MNLF had moderated into an established political party, the ARMM. It was established in 1989, fully institutionalized by 1996 and which eventually became the ruling party on the southern Philippines island of Mindanao.
When Abdurajik Janjalani returned home to Basilan island in 1990, he gathered radical members of the old MNLF who wanted to resume armed struggle for an independent Islamic state and in 1991 founded Abu Sayyaf Group, named after his own alias, which was Abu Sayyaf.
By 1995 Abu Sayyaf was active in large scale bombings and attacks in the Philippines. Abu Sayyaf's first large-scale action was the beachhead assault on the town of Ipil in Mindanao in April 1995. This year also marked the escape of 20 year-old Khadaffy Janjalani from Camp Crame in Manila along with another member named Jovenal Bruno.
On December 18, 1998 the founding older brother Abdurajik Janjalani was killed in a firefight with the Philippine National Police on Basilan Island. He is thought to have been about age 39 at the time of his death. The death of Aburajik Abubakar Janjalani marked a turning point in ASG operations, shifting from its ideological focus to more general kidnappings, murders and robberies, as the younger brother Khadaffy Janjalani then rose to succeed Aburajik.
Abu Sayyaf Group under Khadaffy Janjalani
The 23 year-old Khadaffy Janjalani then took power of one of Abu Sayyaf's factions in an internecine struggle. He then worked to consolidate his power within Abu Sayyaf, causing the group to appear inactive for a period. After Janjalani's supremacy was secured, Abu Sayyaf began a new tactic, as they proceeded to take hostages.
The group's motive for kidnapping became more financial and less religious during the period of Khadaffy's leadership, according to locals in the areas associated with Abu Sayyaf. The hostage money is probably the method of financing of the group.
The group expanded its operations to Malaysia in 2000 when it abducted foreigners from two different resorts. This action was condemned by many parties including Muslim government such as Libyan and Malaysia. It was also responsible for the kidnapping and murder of more than 30 foreigners and Christian clerics and lay-workers, including Martin and Gracia Burnham.
A commander named Abu Sabaya was killed in 2002 while trying to evade forces.
Galib Andang, aka Commander Robot, was captured in Sulu in December 2003.
A blast at a military base on Jolo island on February 18, 2006 was blamed on Abu Sayyaf by Brig. General Alexander Aleo, an Army officer.
Khadaffy Janjalani was indicted in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia for his alleged involvement in terrorist acts, including hostage taking by Abu Sayyaf and murder, against United States nationals and other foreign nationals in and around the Republic of the Philippines.
Consequently on February 24, 2006, Janjalani was among six fugitives in the second and most recent group of indicted fugitives to be added to the FBI Most Wanted Terrorists list along with two fellow members of Abu Sayyaf, Isnilon Totoni Hapilon and Jainal Antel Sali, Jr.
On December 13, 2006, it was reported that Abu Sayyaf may have been planning attacks during the ASEAN summit in the Philippines. The group was reported to have been training alongside Jemaah Islamiyah militants. The plot was reported to have involved detonating a car bomb in the town of Cebu where the summit was scheduled to take place.
On December 27, 2006, the Philippine military reported that Janjalani's remains had been recovered near Patikul, on Jolo Island, southern Philippines, and that DNA tests had been ordered to confirm the discovery. He was allegedly shot in the neck in an encounter with government troops on September on Luba Hills, Patikul town, Sulu Island.
Jainal Antel Sali, Jr. (aka Abu Solaiman) was killed by government troops on January 16, 2007.
2000 Sipadan Kidnapping Crisis
On Wednesday, May 3, 2000, Abu Sayyaf guerillas armed with M-16s and rocket launchers beached their high-speed boats on Sipadan, Malaysia's renowned dive resort island, and abducted 21 hostages
. As CDNN issued daily reports linking the Abu Sayyaf rebels to Al Qaeda
terrorists and warning dive travelers to avoid the area, Malaysia's Ministry of Tourism, the dive industry and local Sipadan dive operators colluded to downplay the threat to tourists.
The rebels have freed two Malaysians early because they are Muslims and are demanding $2.4 million for the release of the other hostages which include at least 10 foreigners.
According to Philippine military sources, the hostages are being held in Jolo, a town located in a remote province named Sulu in the southern Philippines where the Abu Sayyaf is based. The area is less than one hour away from Sipadan by high-speed boat.
Meanwhile, the rebels are fighting Philippine government troops who are trying to free 27 other hostages kidnapped five weeks ago. The rebels have beheaded two of the adult hostages and are threatening to kill five more if government troops do not withdraw
The Abu Sayyaf has demanded the release of various Muslim terrorists including Ramzi Yousef, who was convicted of masterminding the bombing the World Trade Center in 1993.
Few days after the abduction, Malaysia police chief, Norian Mai, stated that several Malaysians have been arrested on charges of helping gunmen.
More than 12 locals have been detained and police stated that more might be arrested as their investigation continues into the kidnapping of five tourists and resort staff.
Police stated that some of the arrested were former employees of the Sipadan resort who have strong ties with the Philippine fishing community, however, Malaysian tourism industry officials have denied the reports.
Kidnapping of Jeffrey Schilling
Jeffrey Schilling, an American citizen and Muslim convert, was held by Abu Sayyaf for 8 months after being captured whilst visiting a terrorist camp with his wife, Ivy Osani. Abu Sayyaf demanded a $10 million dollar ransom for his release, but Schilling escaped after more than 7 months and was picked up by the Philippine Marines Corps on the 12 April 2001.
Many commentators have been critical of Schilling, who had reportedly walked into the camp. Mr. Schilling claims to have been invited, through a relative of his wife who was a member of Abu Sayyaf.
Martin and Gracia Burnham's Kidnapping
On May 27, 2001, an Abu Sayyaf raid kidnapped about 20 people from Dos Palmas, an expensive resort in Honda Bay, to the north of Puerto Princesa City on the island of Palawan, which had been "considered completely safe". The most "valuable" of the hostages were three Americans - Martin and Gracia Burnham (a missionary couple) and Guillermo Sobero (a Peruvian-American tourist who was later brutally murdered by Abu Sayyaf) for whom Abu Sayyaf demanded $1 million in ransom. The hostages and hostage-takers then returned hundreds of miles back across the Sulu Sea to Abu Sayyaf's home turf on Mindanao island.
According to author Mark Bowden, the head of the raid was Aldam Tilao, who called himself Abu Sabaya ("Bearer of Captives"), and who, out of character for an Islamic leader, wore "a single hoop earring and Oakley sunglasses."
According to Gracia Burnham, Tilao told her husband "to identify his kidnappers" to authorities "as `the Osama bin Laden Group,` but Burnham was unfamiliar with that name and stuck with" Abu Sayyaf. After returning to Mindanao, Abu Sayyaf operatives conducted numerous raids, "including one at a coconut plantation called Golden Harvest; they took about 15 people captive there and later used bolo knives to hack the heads off two men. The number of hostages waxed and waned as some were ransomed and released, new ones were taken, and others were killed.".
On 7 June 2002, about a year after the raid, Philippine army troops attempted a rescue operation in which two of the three hostages held were killed - Martin Burnham and a Filipino nurse Ediborah Yap - the remaining hostage wounded, and the hostage takers escaped.
In July 2004, Gracia Burnham testified at a trial of eight Abu Sayyaf member and identified six out of the suspects as being her erstwhile captors, including o Alhamzer Limbong alias Kosovo, Abdul Azan Diamla, Abu Khari Moctar, Bas Ishmael, Alzen Jandul and Dazid Baize.
"The eight suspects sat silently during her three-hour testimony, separated from her by a wooden grill. They face the death sentence if found guilty of kidnapping for ransom. The trial began this year and is not expected to end for several months.
Alhamzer Limbong was later killed in a prison uprising.
Gracia Burnham has caused controversy since returning to the US, by claiming that Philippine military officials were colluding with her captors. She made the claim in a book about her experiences called In the Presence of My Enemies In it she complains the Armed Forces of the Philippines "didn't pursue us ... "As time went on, we noticed that they never pursued us."
Superferry 14 Bombing
Superferry 14 was a large ferry destroyed by a bomb on February 27, 2004, killing 116 people in the Philippines' worst terrorist attack, and the world's deadliest terrorist attack at sea.
On that day, the 10,192 ton ferry was sailing out of Manila, with about 900 passengers and crew. A television set filled with 8 lb (4 kg) of TNT had been placed on board. 90 minutes out of port, the bomb exploded. 63 people were killed immediately, and 53 were missing and presumed dead.
Despite claims from terrorist groups, the blast was initially thought to have been an accident, caused by a gas explosion. But after divers righted the ferry five months after it sunk, they found evidence of a bomb blast. Also, a man named Redendo Cain Dellosa admitted to planting the bomb on board for the Abu Sayyaf guerrilla group.
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo announced on October 11, 2004, that investigators had concluded the explosion was caused by a bomb. She said six suspects had been arrested in connection with the bombing and that the masterminds, Khadaffy Janjalani and Abu Sulaiman, were still at large. It was believed that Abu Sayyaf bombed Superferry 14 because the company that owned it, WG&A, did not comply with an Abu Sayyaf letter demanding protection money.
Journalists abducted since 2000
ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation
/Newsbreak’s reported that Abu Sayyaf abducted at least 20 journalists
since 2000 (mostly foreign journalists), and all of them were eventually released upon payment of ransom
. Ces Drilon
and cameramen Jimmy Encarnacion and Angelo Valderama were the latest of its kidnap victims. The journalists held captive, inter alia, were: GMA-7
television reporter Susan Enriquez (April 2000, Basilan
, a few days); 10 Foreign journalists (7 German, 1 French, 1 Australian, and 1 Danish, on May 2000, Jolo
, for 10 hours); German Andreas Lorenz of the magazine Der Spiegel
(July 2000, Jolo, for 25 days; he was also kidnapped in May); French television reporter Maryse Burgot, and cameraman Jean-Jacques Le Garrec and sound technician Roland Madura (July 2000, Jolo, for 2 months); ABS-CBN television reporter Maan Macapagal and cameraman Val Cuenca (July 2000, Jolo, for 4 days); Philippine Daily Inquirer
contributor and Net 25 television reporter Arlyn de la Cruz(January 2002, Zamboanga
, for 3 months); and GMA-7 television reporter Carlo Lorenzo and cameraman Gilbert Ordiales (September 2002, Jolo, for 6 days).
List of attacks attributed to Abu Sayyaf
- April 23 - ASG gunmen raid the Malaysian diving resort of Sipadan, off Borneo, and flee across the sea border to their Jolo island stronghold with 10 Western tourists and 11 resort workers.
- May 27 - The kidnappers issue political demands including a separate Muslim state, an inquiry into alleged human rights abuses in Sabah and the restoration of fishing rights. They later demand cash multimillion-dollar ransoms.
- July 1 - Filipino television evangelist Wilde Almeda of the Jesus Miracle Crusade (JMC) and 12 of his "prayer warriors" visit the ASG lair. A German journalist is seized the following day.
- July 9 - A three-member French television crew was abducted.
- August 27 - French, South African and German hostages are freed.
- August 28 - American Muslim convert Jeffrey Schilling is abducted.
- September 9 - Finnish, German and French hostages are freed.
- September 10 - ASG raids Pandanan island near Sipadan and seizes three Malaysians.
- September 16 - The government troops launch military assault against ASG in Jolo. Two kidnapped French journalists escape during the fighting.
- October 2 - JMC Evangelist "Wilde Almeda" and 12 "prayer warriors" are released by volunteer.
- October 25 - Troops rescue the three Malaysians seized in Pandanan.
- April 12 - Jeffrey Schilling is rescued, leaving Filipino scuba diving instructor, Roland Ullah, in the gunmen's hands.
- May 22 - Suspected Abu Sayyaf gunmen raid the luxurious Pearl Farm beach resort on Samal island in southern Philippines, killing two resort workers wounding three others, but no hostages were taken.
- May 28 - Suspected Abu Sayyaf gunmen raid the Dos Palmas resort off the western Philippines island of Palawan and seize 20 hostages including a US couple and former Manila Times owner Reghis Romero. Arroyo rules out ransom and orders the military to go after the kidnappers.
- May 29 - Malacañang imposes a news blackout in Basilan province where the Abu Sayyaf are reported to have gone.
- May 30 - US State Department Spokesman Philip Reeker calls for the "swift, safe and unconditional release of all the hostages." An Olympus camera and an ATM card of one the hostages are found in Cagayan de Tawi-Tawi island. Pictures of Abu Sayyaf leaders are released to media by the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
- May 31 - The military fails to locate the bandits and the hostages despite search and rescue operations in Jolo, Basilan and Cagayan de Tawi-Tawi.
- June 1 - Military troops engage Abu Sayyaf bandits in Tuburan town in Basilan. ASG spokesman Abu Sabaya threatens to behead two of the hostages.
- June 2 - Abu Sayyaf invaded Lamitan town and seize the Jose Maria Torres Memorial Hospital and the Saint Peter's church. Soldiers surround the bandits and engage them in a day-long firefight. Several hostages, including businessman Reghis Romero, were able to escape. Witnesses say the bandits escape from Lamitan at around 5:30 in the afternoon, taking four medical personnel from the hospital.
- June 3 - Soldiers recover the bodies of hostages Sonny Dacquer and Armando Bayona in Barangay Bulanting. They were beheaded.
- June 4 - Military officials ask for a state of emergency in Basilan. President Arroyo turns the request down.
- June 5 - At least 16 soldiers are reported killed and 44 others wounded during a firefight between government troops and Abu Sayyaf bandits in Mount Sinangkapan in Tuburan town. President Arroyo promises P5 million to the family of retired Col. Fernando Bajet for killing ASG chieftain Abu Sulayman, alias Kumander Yusuf on June 2, 2000. ASG leaders contact a government designated intermediary for possible negotiations.
- June 6 - ASG leader Abu Sabaya tells Radio Mindanao Network that US hostage Martin Burnham sustained a gunshot wound on the back during a recent exchange of gunfire.
- July 21 - A provincial governor and three others were wounded when fighters of the Abu Sayyaf ambushed them in the southern Philippines, the military said.
- August - Six Filipino Jehovah's Witnesses were kidnapped and two of them were beheaded.
- October - One American serviceman was killed and another seriously injured by a bomb blast in Zamboanga City.
- February 12 - The Philippines expelled an Iraqi diplomat, accusing the envoy of having ties to the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group. Second Secretary Husham Husain has been given 48 hours to leave the country, according to a statement by Philippine Foreign Secretary Blas Ople. The government said it had intelligence that the Iraqi diplomat has ties to the Islamic extremist group. The decision was taken more than a month before the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
- March 5 - Abu Sayyaf claimed responsibility for the bombing of Davao International Airport in the southern Philippines, killing 21 and injuring 148.
- February 24 - A bomb explodes on Superferry 14 off the coast of Manila, causing it to sink and killing 116 people. This attack is the worst terrorist attack at sea.
- April 9 - A key leader of the Islamic terrorist group Abu Sayyaf was killed, along with five of his men, during a firefight with government troops on a southern Philippine island. Hamsiraji Sali and his men were killed when a platoon of the Philippine army's elite Scout Rangers, who had been on the terrorists' trail, attacked them around midday on the island of Basilan, an Abu Sayyaf stronghold about 885 kilometers, or 550 miles, south of the capital, Manila. Four government soldiers, including a commanding officer, were injured.
- April 10 - Around 50 prisoners including many suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf escaped from jail in the southern Philippines, the officials said. Three of the escaped prisoners were later killed and three others have since been recaptured, while three jail guards were wounded in the incident on the island of Basilan. They still did not have a full headcount of those who escaped, but local army commander Colonel Raymundo Ferrer said 53 of the 137 prisoners in the jail on the outskirts of Isabela Cityhad had broken out.
- November 17 - A prominent leader of the Islamist group Abu Sayyaf, Jatib Usman, has been killed in ongoing clashes between rebels and the military. Usman was confronted in the most southeastern province of Tawi-Tawi, an island region which is close to the Borneo coast of Malaysia.
- February 3 - Suspected Abu Sayyaf gunmen knocked on door in a farm in Patikul, Mindanao, and opened fire after asking residents if they were Christian. Six people are confirmed dead, including a nine-month baby girl, and five others are seriously wounded.
- March 20 - Declassified documents seized from Saddam Hussein’s government were said to have revealed that Al-Qaeda agents financed by Saddam entered the Philippines through the country’s southern backdoor.
- September 19 - A Filipino Marine officer was killed after the government forces encountered a large group of Abu Sayyaf terrorists earlier day in the outskirts of Patikul town in Sulu, southern Philippines, a military official reported. Five Marine soldiers also were wounded in the clash with some 80 terrorists believed to be led by Abu Sayyaf leader Radullan Sahiron, alias commander Putol, one of the top terrorist leader based in Sulu province, said the spokesman.
- January 17 - A top Abu Sayyaf leader , Jainal Antel Sali Jr., aka Abu Sulaiman — is killed "in a fierce gun battle with army special forces" on Jolo.
- July 11 - Eight Filipino government soldiers were killed, nine others injured and six missing following a fierce clash with Abu Sayyaf rebels backed by armed villagers in the southern island province of Basilan, according to a military source.
- August - The military said it lost 26 soldiers and killed around 30 militants in three days of fighting on the volatile island of Jolo, in the beginning of month. The heaviest toll occurred after militants ambushed a military convoy.
- January 17 - Abu Sayyaf militants raided a convent in the remote southern Philippine island province of Tawi-Tawi and killed a Catholic missionary during a kidnapping attempt.
- February 14 - Failed assassination plot of the President of the Philippines, Gloria Arroyo.
- June 8 - ABS-CBN Journalist Ces Drilon and her TV Crew kidnapped. 10 days later they were released after families paid a portion of the ransom.
Most of Abu Sayyaf victims have been Filipinos. However, the group has also targeted Western foreigners for kidnapping because of the larger potential ransom payments, and Americans for ideological reasons. Abu Sayyaf kidnapped an American Bible translator on a southern Philippine island in 1993. In 2000, Abu Sayyaf captured an American Muslim visiting Jolo Island and demanded that the United States release Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman and Ramzi Yousef, who were jailed for their involvement in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. “We have been trying hard to get an American because they may think we are afraid of them,” a spokesman for Abu Sayyaf said. “We want to fight the American people.”
- "Such acts of violence have nothing to do with Islam as a religion. The Muslim religion promotes peace, brotherhood and justice, the committee quoted the Grand Sheik of Al-Azhar, Muhammad Sayyid Tantawy, as saying in a statement. "It is better to make individuals accountable for their own actions rather than hold a religion like Islam accountable," the statement said.
- The Libyan envoy accused the group of inhumanity and violating the tenets of Islam by holding innocent people. Abdul Rajab Azzarouq, former ambassador to the Philippines, criticised the kidnappers for holding people who have nothing to do with the conflict. The hostage-takers should not use religion as a reason to keep the hostages isolated from their families, he said. Islam is against any activity that violates human rights.
- Islamic scholar Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi in Qatar has denounced the kidnapping and killings committed by the Abu Sayyaf towards civilians and foreigners, asserting that they are not part of the dispute between the Abu Sayyaf and the Philippines government. He stated that it is shameful to commit such acts in the name of the Islamic faith, saying that such acts produce backlashes against Islam and Muslims worldwide. It is known that Qaradawi supports the rights of Muslims in Philippines. Qaradawi spoke of the importance of education in the life of Muslims, stating that educational institutions in the Muslim world should review their educational philosophy in order that it may reflect Islamic values aiming to create pious Muslims good to themselves and non-Muslims as well.
- The Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) condemned the Sipadan kidnapping and offered to help secure their release. OIC Secretary General Azeddine Laraki who represents the world's largest Islamic body, told the Philippine government he was prepared to send an envoy to help save the hostages and issued a statement condemning the rebels. "The Secretary General has pointed out that this operation and the like are rejected by divine laws and that they are neither the appropriate nor correct means to resolve conflicts," the statement said.
Mark Bowden in an Atlantic story on the Martin and Gracia Burnham
kidnapping and captivity describe the couple as "gently engaged their captors in theological discussion" and finding
these jihadists to be shallow, even adolescent, in their faith. Unfamiliar with the Koran, the outlaws had only a sketchy notion of Islam, which they saw as a set of behavioral rules, to be violated when it suited them. Kidnapping, murder, and theft were justified by their special status as `holy warriors`. One by one they sexually appropriated several of the women captives, claiming them as `wives`.