Violent Islamic extremist groups in the Philippines have killed or wounded more than one-thousand-seven-hundred people during the past seven years, according to Human Rights Watch, an independent human rights monitor. John Sifton, senior researcher on terrorism for Human Rights Watch, said that in the Philippines two Muslim terrorist organizations, the Abu Sayyaf Group and the Rajah Solaiman Movement, “have committed crimes on a massive scale”:
“Since January 2000, violent, radical Islamist groups in the Philippines have carried out at least forty major bombings on civilians and civilian property in the southern Philippines. The attacks, mostly on the southern islands of Mindanao, Basilan, and Jolo, have killed almost four-hundred civilians and injured over a thousand more. Bombs have been set off in urban centers, markets, and stores, airports, on ferry boats and wharfs, and on rural roads and highways. They have killed Philippine civilians indiscriminately - Christians and Muslims, men and women, parents and children.”
The armed forces of the Philippines have achieved marked success in their campaign to isolate and neutralize the Abu Sayyaf Group. They have captured or killed dozens of suspected terrorists, including Abu Sayyaf Group leader Khadaffy Janjalani and operations chief Abu Solaiman.
The U.S. is working closely with the government of the Philippines to develop further the capacity of Philippine security forces to combat terrorists. The U.S. is also giving development assistance to Mindanao, especially to areas of the island affected by terrorism and violence. U.S. aid is focused on health, education, economic livelihood, and the environment to help improve the lives of Filipinos.