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Ansar al-Shari'ah Brigade
Katibat Ansaral Sharia

This outfit is very poorly attested.

President Rodrigo Duterte has declared martial law in the southern Philippines, and vowed to take harsh measures against the militants. He also warned he might expand martial law nationwide. On 23 May 2017 Philippine security forces launched a mission to arrest militant leader Isnilon Hapilon, who was believed to be in Marawi recovering from wounds sustained in a previous clash. The raid collapsed after a wave of militants stormed the city and went on a rampage, burning houses, a university and Catholic churches and taking hostages, including a priest and more than a dozen others at a cathedral.

In November 2015, Malaysian police warned that they believed militants in the southern Philippines were trying to form an official IS regional faction and to unite the most high-profile group there, Abu Sayyaf, with others. A video circulating in January 2016 purported to show Abu Sayyaf, Ansar al-Shari'ah Brigade and M'arakat al-Ansar pledging allegiance to IS, and acknowledging Abu Sayyaf's leader, Isnilon Hapilon, as their overall leader.

Also seen in the video are Abu Anas al Muhajir and Abu Harith al Filipini. Al Muhajir is identified as the leader of another jihadist group identified only as group Katibat Marakah al Ansar, while Al Filipini represented the Katibat Ansaral Sharia. In February 2016 a video released by an Islamic State media outlet, the jihadist group officially recognized the pledges.

Other groups in the Philippines that had also separately pledged oaths to IS, including the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and Ansar al-Khilafah Philippines, were not in the video. The Long War Journal of the US-based Federation to Defend Democracies noted that the official acceptance of the pledges could precede the announcement of an official Islamic State wilayat, or province, for the Philippines or the entire Southeast Asian region.

Ansar al Sharia is anything but a cohesive and unitary group. It is more a label, with groups maintaining distinct national and specific characterizations. This outfit whould not be confused with the various other Ansar al-Shari?a [Partisans of Islamic Law] that are active in the Middle East and North Africa.

Hapilon was purportedly designated leader of the Islamic State group's Southeast Asia branch last year but has long ties to local extremist movements. Born in 1966, the Arabic-speaking Islamic preacher with an engineering degree from the University of the Philippines was once commander of the Moro National Liberation Front, an Islamic separatist group.

Hapilon was purportedly designated leader of the Islamic State group's Southeast Asia branch last year but has long ties to local extremist movements. Born in 1966, the Arabic-speaking Islamic preacher with an engineering degree from the University of the Philippines was once commander of the Moro National Liberation Front, an Islamic separatist group. He later ascended the ranks of Abu Sayyaf to become its second in command. Abu Sayyaf, a notoriously violent Muslim militant group founded in the 1990s, is known for carrying out kidnappings and beheadings of Filipinos and foreigners, as well as bombings, assassinations and armed attacks

Hapilon gained notoriety beyond the Philippines when he allegedly helped Abu Sayyaf kidnap 20 hostages from a Filipino resort in 2001. The victims included three U.S. citizens, one of whom eventually was beheaded. In 2002, the U.S. Department of Justice indicted Hapilon over the attack.

He is included on the department's "Most Wanted Terrorist" list, with a $5 million reward for information leading to his capture. A Philippine citizen, Hapilon is approximately 45 years old, has a thin build, stands 165 centimeters tall, and has black hair, brown eyes and occasionally wears a slight mustache. He is also known as Abubakar Hapilon, Amah Hi Omar and Bakkal.

Isnilon Totoni Hapilon was indicted in the District of Columbia, for his alleged involvement in terrorist acts against United States nationals and other foreign nationals in and around the Republic of the Philippines. Hapilon allegedly served as deputy or second in command for the foreign terrorist organization, Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG). This organization of armed individuals allegedly took the foreign nationals hostage and committed violent acts against them to include murder.

Isnilon Totoni Hapilon perpetrated several brutal acts of terrorism including kidnappings of U.S. and foreign nationals. In May 2001, Hapilon and other ASG members seized, detained, and transported 20 hostages, including three U.S. nationals, from the Dos Palmas Resort in Palawan Province, the Philippines, on behalf of the ASG. In June 2001, one of the U.S. nationals, Guillermo Sobero, was beheaded. Hapilon and the other ASG members moved, hid and marched the hostages through the dense jungles and mountains of Basilan Island, the Philippines. During that time, the ASG took over a church and hospital on Basilan Island and held 200 people hostage, including three Americans from the ASG kidnapping at the Dos Palmas Resort.

In August 2000, Jeffrey Schilling, a U.S. citizen, was kidnapped by members of the ASG and held hostage for more than seven months on Jolo Island, the Philippines, by the ASG. In December 2000, Hapilon and 20-armed ASG members guarded a U.S. citizen-hostage who was believed to be Jeffrey Schilling. Schilling was rescued in April 2001.

Hapilon held senior advisory positions of influence within the ASG, including adviser to ASG leader Khadafi Janjalani. Hapilon also served as a deputy or second-in-command to Khadafi Janjalani and commanded certain other members of the ASG. At various times, Hapilon took part in decision-making meetings between and among the leaders of the ASG.

Prior to the death of ASG founder Abdurajak Abubakar Janjalani in December 1998, Hapilon was a member of the ASG central committee. Additionally, since 1997, Hapilon has held several positions of operational leadership in the ASG. As of August 2004, Hapilon commanded approximately 70-armed followers. In August 2003, Hapilon and approximately 100 ASG members were present in "Camp Usama," an ASG training camp established in 2002 by Hapilon in the Southern Philippines. In late 1999, Hapilon served as an instructor at an ASG camp where classes included military tactics. As of November 1997, Hapilon was an ASG commander.

In 2013, Abu Sayyaf released a video in which Hapilon claimed to have officially broken up with al-Qaeda and pledged alliance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and to ISIL, also known as DAESH. In 2014, Hapilon appeared in a video beside two masked men pledging allegiance to the Islamic State group, which was then gaining ground in Iraq and Syria. He went on to organize an alliance in the Philippines called Dawlatul Islam Wilayatul Mashriq, which is now believed to include at least 10 small militant groups including some Abu Sayyaf factions. He was reportedly chosen to lead the Islamic State group branch in Southeast Asia.




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