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Database: Identifiers of Designated Islamic Terrorist Organizations
Designated as terrorist by: Australia, Canada, European Union, United Kingdom, United Nations, United States
Base of operations: Philippines
Abu Sayyaf ("Father of the Sword" in Arabic) is considered to be the most violent of the separatist groups aiming to establish an Islamic state in the southern Philippines. It was founded in the early 1990s by radical members of the Moro National Liberation Front who rejected negotiations with the Philippine government. To promote its goals, Abu Sayyaf has utilized bombings, assassinations, and kidnappings for ransom, with Westerners, particularly Americans, among its favorite targets. The group's most notorious terrorist attack was the 2004 bombing of a ferry in Manila Bay that killed 116 people. Despite losses in its leadership due to Philippine military action, the organization remains dangerous. It is believed to have had ties to both Jemaah Islamiyah and al-Qaeda.
In summer 2014, a senior figure within Abu Sayyaf pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. Subsequent video footage featuring hostages taken by members of Abu Sayyaf has shown a flag with the inscription "Soldiers of the Caliphate in the Philippines" indicating an Islamic State allegiance, but as of November 2015 there have been no signs of Islamic State acknowledgement and acceptance of the allegiance. Indeed, is still not clear if all of Abu Sayyaf has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State.
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