[This blog has a new domain: http://philippineaffairs.com/]
The Abu Sayyaf Group is like a cancer that keeps on recurring. It has now metastasized. Hence, completely eradicating it is now more difficult than ever. There are actually more than one guerrilla group of Abu Sayyaf spread throughout the Mindanao archipelago. The many factions have no centralized leadership. If one group is annihilated, another group will resurface. If one leader is captured or killed many other leaders will replace the former.
The recent kidnapping of the three International Red Cross workers is an evidence that the Abu Sayyaf group is again becoming agressive and more malignant. It is another malevolent attempt to get the attention of the world in hearing their twisted and perverted version of Islam. It should be noted here that Islam, as a religion of peace, never encourage or tolerate agressive war or violence against civilians. The only justified Holy War in the Koran is defensive war. Obviously, kidnapping civilian humanitarian workers is againts the basic tenets of Islamic Holy War. Although far from being unprecedented, the targeting of Red Cross workers is considered as uncivilized and utterly barbaric. Red Cross has aways been considered as neutral. Traditionally, Red Cross has always been considered as exempt from being an intentional or tactical target of warfare. However, the warfare that is being waged by the Abu Sayyaf is far from being traditional or even rational. The group might have originally started its terrorist activities under the pretense of Islamic ideology but it has now completely deteriorated into purely ruthless banditry.
The government should never have capitulated with the irrational and cowardly demands of the self-styled mujahideen. The government forces should never have moved even an inch farther from the Abu Sayyaf lair. The demand of military pull-out is only an indication that the rats are already being cornered. Cordoning the area would assure that the terrorists would have smaller breathing space. However, a more precise tactic should be used. It is hard to fathom why the military is fond of using artillery attacks. It would be tantamount to killing a mosquito with the use of a cannon. A smaller commando unit would be more effective but the military cordon should be maintained to minimize the possibility of escape.
Like metastasized cancer, eradicating the Abu Sayyaf would be very difficult. It would require a grand but very precise strategy. Many would be sacrificed in the process. The military option is just the initial step. Removing the main tumor would be good but preventing the further development and spread of other tumors is also equally important.