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An Al Qaeda Connection?
Islamic Rebels in the Southern Philippines

Text and photography by Eric Pasquier

Although the focus is still centred on Iraq, the “war on terrorism” is also being waged quietly in other parts of the world.

In April after continued pressure from America, President Gloria Arroyo gave US troops the go-ahead to conduct counter-terrorism exercises alongside Filipino forces in the southern Philippines.

Unlike the rest of the country, the southern islands are predominantly Muslim. Just one of several rebel groups active in the region, the Abu Sayyaf has been linked to al Qaeda by the United States and the Philippine government who are keen to quell their power.

ERIC PASQUIER reveals a glimpse of life in this stronghold of militant Islam in the Philippines where kidnappings and the manufacture of illegal firearms are the order of the day.

Unique Selling Points:

  • Unique material of rebel groups in the southern Philippines: very few have been allowed access.

  • As the war in Iraq winds down, America gears up for the continued fight against terrorism and has been allowed to deploy troops in the southern Philippines to conduct counter-terrorism exercises against militant Islamic groups like the Abu Sayyaf, who have been linked with al Qaeda and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

  • A Muslim enclave in a predominantly Catholic country, the southern islands of the Philippines, such as Sulu and Mindanao have stronger connections with Malaysia than with Manila. 

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