Media reports said that the military formed the ASG in early 1990s to penetrate the ranks of Muslim radicals in the Southern Philippines. The ASG was said to have acted as an agent provocateur of the AFP. Edwin Angles (a.k.a. Ibrahim Yakub), suspected to be Janjalani’s co-founder of the ASG, was disclosed as the deep cover agent of the military and the police intelligence units. Some sources revealed that the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) facilitated the establishment of the ASG. An MNLF leader in Basilan even confessed that the ASG enjoyed the support of the military assigned in the area. The International Peace Mission that went to Basilan on 23-27 March 2002 found that there were “consistent credible reports that the military and the provincial government are coddling the Abu Sayyaf.”
But the AFP, the DND and NICA have denied all these allegations. ASG leaders even argued that group was a creation of the military. Abu Abdu Said, then known as the ASG Secretary General, issued on 18 November 1994 an important document entitled “A Voice of Truth” to describe the origin of the ASG. In this document, the ASG strongly denied that it was created by the military. It argued that the ASG was a radical movement aiming to pursue the establishment of an Islamic State in the Southern Philippines.
While formally establishing the ASG, Janjalani became an avid preacher to limited audiences in Santa Barbara madrassah in Zamboanga City in the early 1990s. During his preaching, Janjalani openly released different theological statements and public proclamations revealing his deep grasp of Islamic religion, particularly the Wahhabi Islamic theology. Wahhabism brands other Muslim sects as heretical. Janjalani delivered at least eight discourses or Khutbah within a radical framework based on the Quranic concept of Jihad Fi-Sabil-lillah (the fighting and dying for the cause of Islam).
To advance his fanatical belief, Janjalani convinced some Muslim leaders in Basilan, Sulu, Tawi- Tawi, Zamboanga City and General Santos City to join the Juma’a Abu Sayyap movement, now rendered in English as the ASG. Most of his recruits were disgruntled members of the MNLF and the MILF. When Janjalani attended an Islamic course in Tripoli, Libya in 1987, he met like-minded Muslim Filipino students who eventually helped Janjalani to form the ASG. These students had common remorse against the Philippine government based in Manila and against “heretic” leadership of the MNLF and the MILF. Many scholars and journalists mistranslated ASG to mean “bearer of the sword”. But ASG really means in Arabic, “Father of the Swordsman”.
a) Organizational Structure
When Abdurajak Janjalani formed the ASG, his original vision was to form a highly organized, systematic, and disciplined organization of fanatical secessionist Islamic fighters in the Southern Philippines. Janjalani recruited younger and more passionate Muslim leaders who studied Islamic theology in Saudi Arabia, Libya, Pakistan and Egypt. These young Muslim leaders had common remorse against the MNLF, which entered into peace agreement with the Philippine government in 1996. These leaders also shared common anger against the Philippine government based in Manila.
To achieve his vision of a truly organized Muslim resistant group in the Philippines, Janjalani deliberately made a detailed organization of the ASG. He formed the Islamic Executive Council (IEC) composed of fifteen Amirs. Janjalani chaired the IEC to serve as the main planning and execution body of ASG. Under the IEC were two special committees. The first committee was the Jamiatul Al-Islamia Revolutionary Tabligh Group in charged of fund raising and Islamic education. The second committee was the Al-Misuaratt Khutbah Committee in charged of agitation and propaganda activities.
The ASG also established a military arm called Mujahidden Al-Sharifullah whose members came predominantly from disgruntled members of MNLF and the MILF. This military arm had three main units to carryout all terrorist activities of the ASG: the Demolition Team, the Mobile Force Team and the Campaign Propaganda Team. The Demolition Team composed mostly of trained fighters, had the capability to manufacture its own mines and explosives used in the bombing operations of the group. The Mobile Force Team - composed mostly of affiliates of radio clubs, traders, businessmen, shippers, and professionals – was in charged of collaboration and coordination activities of the ASG. The Campaign Propaganda Team – composed of professionals, students, and businessmen – was in charged of gathering vital information necessary to carry out the mission of Mujahidden Al-Sharifullah.
However, the original organizational set-up of ASG was short-lived. When the combined forces of the Philippine police and the military killed the Janjalani in a bloody encounter in December 1998 in Lamitan, Basilan, the ASG suffered a severe leadership vacuum. This led to the discontentment of some of its original members. The organization set-up by Janjalani crumbled rapidly with him. The IEC headed by Janjalani also suffered an untimely demise. With no overall Amir at the helm of the organization, the group became a mere network of various armed groups with their own respective Amirs commanding their own respective loyal followers operating mainly in Sulu, Basilan and Tawi-Tawi.
With the death of Janjalani, remaining leaders, however, reluctantly selected Khadafy Janjalani, a younger brother, as his successor in July 1999. But the ASG under the younger Janjalani had lost its original organization set-up and Islamic theological zeal. Unlike the older Janjalani, the younger Janjalani did not have the theological passion of his brother. Lacking strong ideological guide, most of its members resorted to banditry, piracy, kidnap-for-ransom, and other terrorist activities. The ASG was also heavily factionalized. Khadafy Janjalani attempted to revive the Islamist agenda of the ASG. But his confirmed death in January 2007 aborted his plan.
According to various AFP reports, there are two major factions of the ASG operating independently in two major areas in the Southern Philippines: Basilan and Sulu. Khadafy Janjalani, also known as Commander Moktar, used to head the Basilan-based ASG. Galib Andang, otherwise known as Commander Robot, headed the Sulu-based ASG. When these two leaders died, they were replaced by remaining ASG leaders. At present, the Sulo faction is believed to be headed by Radullan Sahiron while the Basilan faction is believed to be headed by Khair Mundos. There is also a reported faction in Zamboanga City engaged in covert operations.
There is a need to underscore that the ASG is not a homogenous organization. Rather, the ASG is a very loose coalition of many groups of radical Muslim leaders and bandits commanding their own loyal followers in the Southern Philippines. These groups have mixed objectives from Islamic fundamentalism to mere banditry. Members of these groups pay allegiance mostly to their respective leaders rather than to ASG doctrines. Not all groups are truly committed to the idea of a separate Islamic state in the Southern Philippines, though there is no doubt that some groups are really committed to the cause. Some Muslim bandit groups in the Southern Philippines want to be associated with the ASG for prestige, political expediency and economic gains. But the dynamics of these groups shares common feature: they are highly personalistic rather than ideological groups of Muslim radicals.
Because of intensified military campaigns of the Philippine government, some factions of the ASG were dismantled as a result of the capture, neutralization or death of their leaders. Based on intelligence reports, the ASG strength has been reduced to less than 400 as of the end of 2010.
See for example Department of National Defense, Info Kit on the Abu Sayyaf Group (Presented before the hearing of the Senate Committee on National Defense and Security at the Philippine Senate, Pasay City on 30 August 2001); and, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, Knowing the Terrorists: The Abu Sayyaf Study (Quezon City: General Headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, 2002).
Khadaffy Janjalani, “A Brief History of the Al-Harakatul Islmamiyyah” at http:www.geocities.com/ghrabah101.
 See Eusaquito P. Manalo, Philippine Response to Terrorism: The Abu Sayyaf Group (MA Thesis: Naval Post Graduate School, Monterey, California, December 2004), p. 3 and Mark Turner, “The Management of Violence in a Conflict Organization: The Case of the Abu Sayyaf”, Public Organization Review, Vol. 3, No. 4 (December 2003), p. 394.
 Dorian Zumel Sicat , “Transcript of Interview with Elmina Abdul, widow to Edwin Angeles “ (10 March 2002) at <http://www.okcbombing.org/News%20Articles/deathbed_confession.htm> (accessed 14 November 2005).
 Mirian Coronel Ferrer, ed., Peace Matters: A Philippine Peace Compedium (Quezon City: University of the Philippines Center for Integrative and Development Studies, 1997), p. 218.
 Marites D. Vitug and Glenda M. Gloria, Under the Crescent Moon: Rebellion in Mindanao (Quezon City: Ateneo Center for Social Policy and Public Affairs, Institute for Popular Democracy and Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, 2000), p. 217.
 Abu Hamdie, “The Abu Sayyaf Group” (undated and unpublished manuscript).
Eusaquito P. Manalo, Philippine Response to Terrorism: The Abu Sayyaf Group (MA Thesis: Naval Post Graduate School, Monterey, California, December 2004). p. 31.
Gloria, p. 2.
Tan, “The Juma’a Abu Sayyap: A Brief Assessment of its Origin, Objectives, Ideology and Method of Struggle”, p. 3.
See For example, Turbiville, Jr., pp. 38-47.
Jose Torres, Jr., Into the Mountain: Hostages by the Abu Sayyaf (Quezon City: Claretian Publications, 2001), p. 35.
 Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, J3, Knowing the Terrorists: The Abu Sayyaf Study (Quezon City: Headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, undated).
To know more about the strategy of the ASG, see Office of the Assistant to the Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Field Handout: Doctrinal Extract for the Abu Sayyaf Group (Headquarters of the Philippine Marine Corps, 21 January 2002).
Ibid. Also based on various intelligence briefings obtained by the author.