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Abu Sayyaf - The Al-Qaida of Phillipine
Naim Naqvi | 24 Feb 2014

For long the world is witnessing the mindless brutality prevailing around in the name of religion! Eight months ago, two Filipino sisters were kidnapped by 'Abu Sayyaf' extremists when both were travelling to Jolo Island in Sulu province of Philippine.

Sisters Nadjoua and Linda Bansil were intended to make a documentary about the lives of poor farmers in that predominantly Muslim region. These sisters were born to a Muslim Filipino father and an Algerian mother. They were working as independent documentary film makers. These sisters were discovered by Filipino marines in Buhanginan village in the mountain town of Patikul clad in black veil covering from head to feet with the chinks open on eyes.

They had also been provided plenty of books to read during their captivity. The Abu Sayyaf militants were demanding $1.1 million for the sisters freedom but constant military assaults and search operations put pressure on the kidnappers to release them. On the last day of their captivity, their cell was approached by a marine unit and the guards ran away. Eventually, they got their freedom.

According to Linda Basil, the cat was brought by a militant to the Abu Sayyaf camp where they were being held. “I think I needed a pet because they say a pet makes you relax. It's scary, there were times we heard mortar explosions but I always grabbed her first. I got used to that. I got attached to her.”

Although the cat could have hampered their escape but the bondage had grown so strong that she couldn’t leave it behind in the mountains alone. Their captors moved them from one jungle camp to another to avoid being found by government forces. Rice, root crops and dried fish were fed to them. And they were often detained in a hut.

After the release, they were taken to a military trauma center for a medical checkup, given a meal and then flown to southern Zamboanga city, where they were briefly presented to journalists. Abu Sayyaf militants still hold about a dozen hostages, including two European bird watchers kidnapped two years ago, in Sulu province, where Jolo is located.

The Abu Sayyaf is one of the strongest of the Islamic separatist groups in the Philippines comprised by Filipino Talebans (members of the group who have studied or worked in Saudi Arabia). They have also fought with so-called Mujahideen in the war against Soviet Union. Abu Sayyaf is estimated to have a membership of over 2000 young men.