The Philippines-based Abu Sayyaf terrorist group, which has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL), has been dramatically degraded, according to the Filipino military.
“We see the will of the enemy is now beginning to crumble,” declared Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., the chief of the Western Mindanao Command.
The Inquirer reported that Abu Sayyaf’s strength has been depleted from an estimated 600 jihadists to about 100 now, indicated the Filipino military leader.
“Our men could previously hit a large group of 400 Abu Sayyaf [bandits], [but] now, the biggest [number] would [only] be 40 to 50 [men],” noted Gen. Galvez Jr., suggesting that many Abu Sayyaf recruits may have abandoned the terrorist group.
“So for me, we have a very substantial [accomplishment]. No Abu Sayyaf member had surrendered in the past, but now, we can see them yielding. We are gaining ground, we were able to contain the Maute (group), we were able to contain the BIFF [Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters],” Galvez said.
In April, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte ordered his country’s military to wipe out Abu Sayyaf, known for its kidnappings for ransom, bombings, ambushes of security personnel, public beheadings, assassinations, and extortion.
“We will not let up on the war against the Abu Sayyaf and drugs. They would not honor their word. If they like to kill, then we will go ahead and kill them up to the last man,” declared Duterte.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) recently boasted of “substantial and significant developments” in its offensive against the Abu Sayyaf in Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi, saying it had executed 60 jihadists since January.
Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez, Jr., the chief of the Western Mindanao Command, acknowledged that the government lost at least nine troops, mainly militia forces.
“He said that in the past four months of the intensified war on terror, the fighting will of the Abu Sayyaf had crumbled,” noted the Inquirer.
Last month, the Philippines military executed a young Abu Sayyaf commander who was involved in the beheadings of two Canadians and a German.
“This is a major blow to the Abu Sayyaf,” Gen. Eduardo Ano, military chief of staff, told the Associated Press (AP). “If they have further plans to kidnap innocent people somewhere, they will now have to think twice.”
“The militants are still holding at least 29 captives in Sulu’s jungles, many of them foreign tugboat and cargo ship crewmen seized in the seas surrounded by southern Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia,” noted AP.