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The Abu Sayyaf and Khadaffy Janjalani

December 27, 2006 9:03pm
When Khaddafy Janjalani went to Camp Crame in 1995 to negotiate for his elder brother’s surrender, he was not very optimistic. He really did not expect Abduradjak Abubakar Janjalani, founder of the Abu Sayyaf Group, would give himself up to authorities.

Khaddafy was right. Abdurajak chose to face military bullets than surrender to the authorities. In 1998, after years of dodging military bombs, Abdurajak Janjalani was killed in an encounter with government troops.

Six years after his visit to the Philippine National Police headquarters in Quezon City, Khaddafy Janjalani, chose the same path his brother earlier took. He chose to fight it out with government forces.

The Abu Sayyaf under Khaddafy’s leadership became a kidnap-for-ransom gang with an extremist view of Islam. Perhaps, it was far from what his elder brother, the founder of the group, imagined it would become.

Khaddafy Janjalani took on his elder brother footsteps after Abdurajak died in 1998. But unlike his brother, who was described as a charismatic leader, Khaddafy was not eloquent.

Abdurajak Janjalani, who founded the Abu Sayyaf in 1991, used to be with the Moro National Liberation Front. He decided to leave the group and distanced himself from the MNLF, particularly in the interpretation of jihad (holy war), after having gone to the Middle East for a four-year study of Islam.

The charismatic young leader believed the term "revolution" is not mentioned in the Qur'an. Abdurajak believed that the command of Allah is to wage a jihad and not a revolution. And that if one is to win in a jihad, it should be because one follows the laws of Islam, specifically the Qur'an from beginning to end.

Abdurajak was able to convince a lot of young Muslims with his preachings in Basilan. His group was initially welcomed with much enthusiasm by the Muslim communities. He was seen as a modern-day missionary.

As a student in the Middle East, Abdurajak was influenced by radical-minded Muslims. His ideas were later reflected in his speeches after the formation of the Abu Sayyaf. He said he wanted the group to have a political aim, that is, to set up an independent Islamic state in Mindanao and to implement the Shariah (Islamic law).

Unfortunately, however, Abdurajak was not able to match his rhetoric with deeds. His group, the Abu Sayyaf, began to practice an extremist version of Islam. Abdurajak was also lured by quick military successes and easy money. He approved of the kidnapping of Christians that went on from 1992 to 1994.

When he died in 1998, his group appeared to have lost its political ideals.

Later, under Khaddafy Janjalani's leadership, the Abu Sayyaf was out of control. A lot of Muslim scholars believe Khaddafy lacked the leadership qualities his brother had. The younger Janjalani was far from the leader that his brother was.

And the difference is stark and telling: Abdurajak went to Libya to study, while Khaddafy studied in Marawi City. In 1992, a year after Abdurajak formed the Abu Sayyaf Group, Khaddafy was still studying computers at a STI school in Zamboanga City. He was an inactive member of the Abu Sayyaf because Abdurajak was his elder brother.

While Abdurajak was quick in making decisions for the Abu Sayyaf, Khaddafy needed consultants and advisers to help him lead the group. But it was during Khaddafy's time as Abu Sayyaf leader when the group grew in number. From just around 650 members in the early 1990s, the Abu Sayyaf is believed to have grown to almost 3,000 fighters in 2001. A lot of people, especially in far-flung areas, sympathize with the group.

But as their number grew, the violence they wrought on their target also worsened. Even without a central command, the group grew stronger and was believed to have made connections with the military and police.

Khaddafy’s alleged meeting with agents of the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force in 1998 at a posh hotel in Zamboanga City is something to be considered.

Despite the Abu Sayyaf’s continued attacks on helpless civilians, Khaddafy was ironically seen as a "kind-hearted" Abu Sayyaf.

Basilan hostages whom the group kidnapped in Tumahubong in 2000 said in an interview that Khaddafy, unlike the group’s spokesman Abu Sabaya, was "kind."

"He was gentle and he would always give instructions to his men to take it easy with the kidnapped children," said 14-year old Charry Vergara who survived almost two months of captivity by the Abu Sayyaf.

A teacher who was also hostaged by the bandits was thankful that "between two evils," it was Khaddafy who led the kidnapping in Claret High School and not the grim Abu Sabaya who led the kidnapping at the nearby elementary school.

"Sabaya was more violent and harsh. Khaddafy was at least meek and kind to the hostages," the teacher recalled.

Another kidnap victim said Khaddafy was good looking. "He did not at all look like he was a bandit," said a young female student after seeing the young Abu Sayyaf leader. - GMANews.TV
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