Philippine General Says Abu Sayyaf Group is ‘Dismantled’

Abu Sayyaf ‘Dismantled’

Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief Lt. General William Gonzales said that the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) “has been fully dismantled.” The Westmincom commander made comments during a forum marking the 10th anniversary of the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro in Quezon City. The agreement laid the foundation for the creation of the Bangsamoro autonomous government in 2019.

Gonzales also said that only remnants of the group—approximately 20 members—remain in Basilan and Sulu provinces. However, he also noted that “the all-high-value individuals, the leadership, we have all neutralized them.” He highlighted that the 14 members in Sulu “lay low,” while the remaining six members are in Basilan province.

However, he said the command is currently in negotiations with the remnants of the ASG and their families to demobilize and lay down their arms. Furthermore, Gonzales also noted, “it’s just a matter of time. We are just waiting for the parameters of the GHQ (General Headquarters) for use to formally declare in the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) that Abu Sayyaf is already dismantled.”

Analysis

Gonzales’ comments about ASG mean the group is no longer considered to have the capability to conduct terrorist attacks on Mindanao Island, Sulu and Basilan provinces, and other areas in the southern Philippines. The AFP conducted several operations that eliminated several high level leaders and other members of the ASG and Maute Group-Dawlah Islamiya (MG-DI) throughout the southern Philippines. For example, the most recent operations in December 2023 resulted in the deaths of the purported leaders of ASG and MG-DI and several members. The ASG’s decline in capability continued even after the group allied itself with the Islamic State in 2014 and accelerated after the group participated in the Siege of Marawi City in 2017. Furthermore, the December 2023 Mindanao State University bombing also illustrates  ASG’s degradation since the Islamic State likely used MG-DI to actively assist and conduct the attack instead of the ASG.

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Joaquin Camarena
Joaquin Camarena
Joaquin the panda began Sino Talk in 2022 primarily to give an objective, unbiased view on China related topics as well as other issues related to the Indo-Pacific region. He spent several years studying and traveling throughout China and many countries in the Indo-Pacific region. In another life, the panda was also a U.S. Marine intelligence analyst who enjoyed bamboo MREs and drinking bourbon and soju. Indo-Pacific Division Desk Chief for Atlas News.
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