Pretty good article. There is some much overlap and conflict among all these groups. Interesting that Malik is quoted. In April 2007 he major attacks against government forces on Jolo that lasted about a week. While everyone wants a nice neat conventional order of battle the reality is there are so many family/clan and tribal relationships and conflict that the situation is very complex. One way we used to describe it is that a grandfather might be old MNLF while his son might be MILF and the grandson ASG. simplistic and complex at the same time. Both the MNLF and the MILF have also benefited from the ASG as it provided a focus for responsibility for terror attacks. But with the new agreement between the government and the MILF the real challenge is how the MNLF and MILF are going to resolve the differences because of course they are all Moros with the same ancestral domain claims. I think the situation in Mindanao will remain "interesting" for years to come.
February 10, 2013
Filipino Extremists Face New Foe: Fellow Rebels
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
MANILA, Philippines (AP) — After years of fighting the government from hidden jungle bases in the southern Philippines, an Al-Qaida-linked militant group is facing a new adversary: fellow Muslim insurgents who can match their guerrilla battle tactics and are eager to regain their lost stature by fighting the widely condemned terrorist group.
The emerging enmity between the Abu Sayyaf militants and the Moro rebels could bolster a decade-long campaign by the Philippines and Western countries to isolate the al-Qaida offshoot Abu Sayyaf, which remains one of the most dangerous groups in Southeast Asia.
In their first known major clash, Abu Sayyaf gunmen battled rebels from the larger Moro National Liberation Front in fighting early this week, leaving at least 22 combatants dead in the mountainous jungles on southern Jolo Island. A Moro rebel was beheaded — Abu Sayyaf's signature act.
Bonded by blood ties and war, the two armed groups had co-existed for years on Jolo in a predominantly Muslim region, where abject poverty, guns and weak law enforcement have combined in an explosive mix to fuel their rebellions and pockets of lawlessness.
The trouble began after the Moro rebels — seeking to regain their former dominance in the region — tried to arrange the release of several hostages held by the Abu Sayyaf, including a prominent Jordanian TV journalist and two European tourists. When the Abu Sayyaf commanders refused to free the hostages, Moro rebels launched an attack.
The Moro rebels are now trying to rescue the captives and end the Abu Sayyaf's reign, Moro commander Khabier Malik told The Associated Press.
"We breath the same air, speak the same language and live and fight in the same jungle," he said by telephone. "We're a bigger force and we cannot allow this small group to reign with this brutality."
For years, a shadowy alliance is believed to have existed between the groups. While the Moro rebels signed a limited peace deal with the government years ago, some Moro commanders are suspected of giving sanctuary to Abu Sayyaf men and carrying out kidnappings for ransom with them.
"Collusion between the Abu Sayyaf Group and MNLF members — many of whom are relatives — on Jolo is a major reason why large swaths of the island have been essentially ungovernable for years," said Bryony Lau of the Brussels-based International Crisis Group think tank. The government "should consider whether the recent clash has shifted relations between them in a way that could make it easier to isolate senior figures of the Abu Sayyaf Group."
(Continued at the link below)