A Department of Homeland Security Emeritus Center of Excellence led by the University of Maryland

BAAD - Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) - 2012


Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG)

Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), although one of the smaller insurgent groups in the Philippines, is the most radical and violent of the separatist groups in the country.[1] ASG was founded by Abdurajak Abubakar Janjalani in 1991 on the island of Basilan as a splinter group from the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).[2] ASG goals predominantly focus on creating an independent, autonomous Islamic state in the southern Philippines.[3] From ASG’s inception through the mid-1990s, the group was primarily supported through al-Qa’ida fiscal and military support.[4]

ASG began its operations by implementing a string of bombs against Christians in the southern Philippines in 1991.[5] Until its loss of funding from al-Qa’ida in the mid-1990s, ASG attacks mainly consisted of bombings, ambushes, and executions.[6] In April and July 2000, ASG kidnapped 24 foreigners in the Philippines and released these hostages for ransoms that ranged from 10 to 25 million dollars.[7] Post-2003, kidnapping for ransom was deemphasized while efforts in bombing and other violent means were increased.[8] In late 2003, leader Khadaffy Janjalani established an alliance with Jemaah Islamiah (JI).[9]

The Armed Forces of the Philippines' (AFP) campaign against ASG in the 2000s significantly diminished that group's presence in the southern Philippines.[10] ASG had 1,000 members in 2000 but by 2013 had dropped to an estimated 400.[11] Since the death of Khadaffy Janjalani in 2006 and other key leaders in operation Oplan Ultimatium, ASG has struggled with leadership and structural issues in its efforts for a separate Islamic state.[12] No verified successor has been named, and without a central leader, ASG has once again resorted to initiating kidnappings for ransom in order to support the group.[13] Although ASG’s strength has dwindled, its violence continues, and therefore it remains an issue of concern for the Philippine Government.[14] View full narrative

Quick Facts for 2012


443 (Total of 1998 through 2012)

Religious, Separatist

Approximately 400

Territorial Control:
Controls Territory (1)

Funding through Drug Trafficking:

Sorry, but there are no organizational details available for this group at this time.


Primary Ideology

  • Ag = Anti-Globalization
  • An = Anarchist
  • En = Ethnic
  • Ev = Environmental
  • Le = Leftist
  • Re = Religious
  • Ri = Rightist
  • Se = Separatist
  • Su = Supremacist
  • Vi = Vigilante


  •  Ally
  •  Suspected Ally
  •  Rival
  •  Violence
  •  Mixed Relations


  •  Blue 0 - 1479 fatalities
  •  Green 1479 - 2958 fatalities
  •  Yellow 2958 - 4437 fatalities
  •  Orange 4437 - 5916 fatalities
  •  Red 5916 - 7396 fatalities

Lethality is calculated as the total number of fatalities from 1998-2012.


Icon sizes depict approximate relative sizes of the organizations.

  • Smallest 0 - 10 members
  •   11 - 100 members
  •   101 - 1000 members
  •   1001 - 10000 members
  • Largest > 10000 members

Other Notes

Icons with no color coding or ideology icon have no detailed data at this time, and are provided as relationship information only.