The Straits Times
Published on Feb 10, 2013

Filipino extremists face new foe: Fellow rebels


MANILA, Philippines (AP) - After years of fighting the government from hidden jungle bases in the southern Philippines, an Al-Qaeda-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-Qaeda offshoot Abu Sayyaf, which remains one of the most dangerous groups in Southeast Asia.

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.

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.