Abu Sayyaf is a relatively small, terrorist group that resides in the Philippines. There are approximately 500 members, but what they lack in numbers does not mean their wrath is not felt throughout the country.
They operate by typically kidnapping a foreigner and demanding a ransom to be paid. This usually results in the death of the person who was kidnapped.
After the rise of ISIS, the group began dedicating their kidnappings and killings in the name of ISIS, pledging allegiance to this other terroristic group.
This is the same group that conducted the Philippines’ worst terror attack to date when they bombed the Superferry in 2004 killing 116 innocent people.
The goal of this group, whose name translated means “Bearers of the Sword,” is to develop and maintain an independent Islamic province in the Philippines.
Over the weekend, a video emerged of a member of this terrorist organization beheading a man, Jurgen Kantner, who had spent the past 30 years at sea.
His partner, “Ms. Merz” was found dead on the boat several months past.
It is believed besides obtaining ransom money as funding, that Middle Eastern benefactors could possibly be funneling money to the group. There has been evidence presented from the State Department Libya could have been sending them money, and Russia was quite possibly providing them with weapons at one point.
As of 2014, kidnapping ransom is by far the most lucrative activity for the group.
The U.S. has a couple hundred soldiers stationed near the areas where Abu Sayyaf predominately operates, but they are not allowed to engage in direct combat. Instead they are busy training the Philippine military on how to be able to handle these extremists.
The United States has always been seen as a force to be reckoned with when it comes to the military, and I’m thankful every day for our servicemen and women.
However, I’m also extremely glad that at least in this case our troops are not engaging directly in battle, but instead teaching others how to fend for themselves.
We should continue to engage less, but educate and train more when it comes to foreign governments.
Groups like this feed off attention from the Western World, and any intervention is giving them the satisfaction that they are so actively seeking.