The Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) is considered one of the most violent Islamic separatist groups that operate in the Southern Philippines. The ASG alleges to advance a sovereign Islamic state in the Sulu Archipelago and western Mindanao. It was designated a terrorist group in the late 1990s after splitting from the Moro National Liberation Front. It presently takes part in bombings, assassinations, ransom demands, and extortions. The ASG runs mainly in Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, and Basilan provinces (the Sulu Archipelago) and Mindanao. However, members occasionally travel to other provinces for kidnapping. It is estimated to have less than five hundred members (Council on Foreign Relations, 2009).
Boko Haram has various similarities to the ASG. For instance, it is not international and is primarily based in Nigeria. However, its aim is to depose the existing administration and swap it with a government based upon Islamic law. When translated, the term Boko Haram means Western education is prohibited. The group has also used ASG’s tactics of using violence to further its cause. It has used bombs and improvised explosive devices to attack soft targets such as Christians and churches, learning institutions, and villages. It has also lax attacked security forces. Unlike the ASG, Boko Haram has thousands of members (The National Counterterrorism Center, 2014).
After studying modern terrorist groups, I have come to realize that states play a vital role in sponsoring terrorist activities. However, this apparent sponsorship is always discrete, with some even not knowing that they are providing a fertile ground for terrorists. For example, a state can turn a blind eye to a number of hate preachers, believing that they are in the minority. Others simply underrate the threat of a small group. Other countries do not supervise suspicious fundraising activities. When all these go unchecked for a while, the small groups gain in numbers as they attract members. Once they turn violent, eliminating them becomes almost impossible (Byman, 2005).
Byman, D. (2005). Passive sponsor of terrorism. Survival, 47(14): 117-144.
Council on Foreign Relations (2009). Abu Sayyaf Group (the Philippines, Islamist separatists). Retrieved 17 March 2014 from http://www.cfr.org/philippines/abu-sayyaf-group-philippines-islamist-separatists/p9235#p8
The National Counterterrorism Center (2014). Boko Haram. Retrieved 17 March 2014 from http://www.nctc.gov/site/groups/boko_haram.html