Abu Sayyaf Loses Foreign Funding

September 18, 2007 at 12:38 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

BASILAN ISLAND, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / 18 Sept) – The Abu Sayyaf group has stopped receiving funding from abroad and its members are on the run as security forces continue hunting down militants in the troubled southern Philippine region.

Abu Kahlid, an Abu Sayyaf militant, in a clandestine interview with Al-Jazeera television in Basilan island, said his group has lost capability in launching large scale attacks similar to the firebombing of a ferry off Manila Bay in February 2004 that killed over 100 people.

Khalid is a cousin of a senior Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, who is wanted both by the Philippines and the United States for the killings of two American citizens kidnapped in 2001.

Al-Jazeera reported Monday that Khalid admitted the Abu Sayyaf now has no more capabilities to launch large scale attacks.

He also said the Abu Sayyaf stopped receiving funding from abroad and that training its fighters have move to other region.

It was unclear who was funding the Abu Sayyaf, but Filipino and U.S. authorities have linked the group to Osama Bin Laden’s al-Qaeda and Indonesian Jemaah Islamiya terror network.

The Abu Sayyaf last month published excerpts of a recruitment film on YouTube where the video is spoken in Arabic and was appealing for funding to Middle Eastern donors so it can carry out jihad in the Philippines.

It was taken out by YouTube after Philippine military officials said the video was promoting terrorism.

During the interview, Khalid, his face covered to hide his identity, warned that: “We will spare no one, whether they are Christians or Muslims.”

However, he said his conscience has bothered him and asked for forgives to those victimized by the Abu Sayyaf atrocities. “My conscience did bother me that why I laid low for a while. I feel bad for those who were victimized so I ask forgiveness for what I have done.”

“I have a family now and swear to God if I die and go to hell; there is nothing more I can do. I am so tired and I don’t want to go hiding anymore, I don’t want to be tired anymore,” he said.

Khalid was with another Abu Sayyaf militant, Abu Karim, said to be involved in attack on government soldiers in Basilan’s Al-Barka town in July 10. Ten Marines were beheaded in that fighting.

“It’s not always an order from Hapilon,” Khalid said, adding, younger men are coming in and acting on their own, like Abu Karim, 25, who rebelled against his parents to prove that he is a man.

Like Khalid, the young militant’s face was also covered.

Al-Jazeera reported that Karim joined the Abu Sayyaf along with young recruits in Basilan island, but wanted to leave the group because of the intense government operation.

“Abu Karim, who also joined the Abu Sayyaf and is said to be among those who decapitated ten Marines in Basilan island’s Al-Barka town, now wanted out of the group,” Al-Jazeera said in its English report now also in the popular video website YouTube.

The Al-Jazeera report ended with this: “For many of the island’s younger generation, it is the Abu Sayyaf not the military that remains the symbol of bravery regardless of leadership in a culture where guns equal power and Abu Sayyaf young recruits are waiting for their next mission to prove themselves, for them that is their only cause it could just be a matter of time before these recruits return.”

The Philippine military on Tuesday said the hunt for the Abu Sayyaf continues in Basilan island. “The operation is going on. Security forces are hunting down the Abu Sayyaf and their supporters,” Army Maj. Eugene Batara, a spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command, told the Mindanao Examiner.

“We are also tracking down Abu Khalid and Abu Karim and we will arrest those who are coddling the two terrorists,” he said.

The Abu Sayyaf is in the U.S. list of international terrorist organizations and Washington offered as much as five million dollars bounties for the capture of Isnilon and other known terror leaders.

Many of the Abu Sayyaf senior leaders, including its chieftain Khadaffy Janjalani have been killed the past years and the group is now in disarray. But despite the government offensive the Abu Sayyaf group remains a top security concern for Manila and Washington.

Just last month, a suspected Abu Sayyaf bombing in Zamboanga City injured at least 16 people.

The Abu Sayyaf is believed to be coddling two of Indonesia’s most wanted terrorists, Jemaah Islamiya militants Dulmatin and Umar Patek in southern Philippines. Jakarta tagged both men as behind the 2002 Bali resort bombings which killed 202 people, including 88 Australians. (Mindanao Examiner)

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