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Degeneration of Abu Sayyaf into banditry ‘dangerous’–Yano

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 13:37:00 07/09/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Driven by money, instead of ideology, and without a single recognized leader, the degeneration of the Al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf into “mere bandits” is a “very dangerous and risky development,” Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Alexander Yano warned.

Yano said the “loose” factions of the Abu Sayyaf could try to “compete with each other” and carry out atrocities that could prove “very irritating” for security forces.

“Without a central leadership, they can move in different groups with their own vested interests or motivations, and mostly for money, the ideological and other more powerful motivations are no longer there” Yano told a forum hosted by the Manila Overseas Press Club on Tuesday evening.

“So while we have a loose Abu Sayyaf organization, it also presents itself as a very dangerous and risky development because we have different groups who are trying to compete with each other,” he added.

Yano cited the nine-day abduction of an ABS-CBN news team and their guide by the Abu Sayyaf on Jolo Island, and the most recent incident, the June 26 kidnapping of four electric cooperative workers in Basilan who remain hostage.

But while the Abu Sayyaf has shifted to money-making schemes such as kidnapping, Yano said its threat as a terrorist group has “diminished” due to its inability to stage “high-profile attacks” in urban centers.

“Combat operations, specifically those conducted under Oplan Ultimatum, have degraded the Abu Sayyaf group’s armed capabilities. We have also cut off its links from foreign terrorist group, denying it financial, training and logistic support,” Yano said.

Abu Sayyaf chieftain Khadaffy Janjalani was fatally wounded in an encounter with Marines in Patikul town, Sulu province in September 2006. Forensic tests on his remains confirmed his death in January 2007.

Also in January 2007, elite Army Special Forces killed Janjalani’s second-in-command, Jainal Antel Sali alias Abu Solaiman, after they assaulted a major bandit camp in the mountains of Indanan town in Sulu.

“Until now, the group has yet to recover from its leadership vacuum,” Yano said.

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Written by joelguinto

WedUTC2008-07-09T06:53:41+00:00UTC07bUTCWed, 09 Jul 2008 06:53:41 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am07

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