* Former leader of the Philippine terrorist group Abu Sayyaf
* Was killed by Philippine government troops on September 4, 2006
Khadafy Janjalani (a.k.a. Khadaffy Janjalani) was born on March 3, 1975 in Isabela City, Philippines. He was the younger brother of Abduragak Abubakar Janjalani, founder of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), a Philippines-based Islamic militant organization with heavy connections to Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda.
Khadafy Janjalani joined ASG as a teenager in the early 1990s, and he trained during that time at an al-Qaeda camp near Mazar e-Sharif, Afghanistan. In May 1995, Janjalani was arrested on kidnapping charges in Jolo — capital of the Philippine province of Sulu — and was subsequently detained at Camp Crame, the Quezon City-based headquarters of the Philippine National Police. Later that year, Janjalani escaped from Camp Crame and fled to the island province of Basilan.
Janjalani was arrested again in Cebu City on February 15, 1997 by the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, but he was released on bail.
After a power struggle following his brother’s death in 1998, Khadafy Janjalani became the titular head of ASG. Under his leadership, the organization grew increasingly ruthless and corrupt. As the International Herald Tribune put it in 1999, “the Abu Sayyaf group [under Khadafy Janjalani] has evolved into a disorganized, ragtag militia of professional kidnappers motivated by ransom money more than religious fervor.” In a similar vein, American University-affiliated scholar Audrey Cronin wrote that Khadafy Janjalani had turned ASG into “essentially a criminal organization” animated chiefly by “criminal greed.” And in a June 2016 doctoral dissertation titled Headhunting: Evaluating the Disruptive Capacity of Leadership Decapitation on Terrorist Organizations, Ted Clemens IV of the City University of New York’s Graduate Center wrote: “Under the younger Janjalani, Abu Sayyaf split into several splinter groups that retained some loose central ties, but for the most part, sought to antagonize the Philippine military and police apparatuses and to extort money from wealthy citizens and tourists alike.”
Under Janjalani’s stewardship throughout 2000 and 2001, ASG kidnapped numerous Filipinos on the islands of Basilan and Mindanao. The organization executed some of its captives, while others were released in exchange for large ransom payments that in some cases exceeded $1 million apiece.
Janjalani commanded a May 27, 2000 operation in which ASG agents used speedboats to travel some 300 miles across the Sulu Sea to attack a tourist resort on Palawan, the large, westernmost island of the Philippines. The individuals who carried out this attack kidnapped 20 people, including 3 Americans, and took them to Basilan where they were held in captivity. On June 12, 2001, ASG announced that it had beheaded one of the Americans, 40-year-old Guillermo Sobero of California. An ASG spokesman named Abu Sabaya issued a statement on the Radio Mindanao Network saying: “We’ve released unconditionally one American, our amigo Guillermo [Sobero], but we released him without a head.” The beheading, Sabaya explained, had taken place “because the Philippine government is toying with us.” Describing the killing as a gift to the nation on its June 12 independence day, Sabaya sardonically urged Philippine troops to search for the headless body before it was eaten by dogs.
Most of the other abductees from the Palawan raid were eventually freed in exchange for ransom payments of as much as $1 million per person.
On February 27, 2004, members of Janjalani’s ASG faction bombed a ferry in Manila Bay, killing 116 people.
On February 14, 2005, members of the same ASG faction – personally recruited and trained by Janjalani — carried out simultaneous bombings in the cities of Manila, General Santos, and Davao, killing a total of 8 people and wounding approximately 150.
The United States District Court for the District of Columbia subsequently indicted Janjalani for his alleged involvement in acts of terrorism in and around the Republic of the Philippines. On February 24, 2006, the FBI placed him on its Most Wanted Terrorists list, putting out a reward of $5 million for information leading to his capture.
Sometime between early June and early September 2006, Janjalani was shot in the neck and killed in an encounter with Philippine government troops in Patikul, Sulu. Those troops had been able to track down Janjalani as a result of information provided by multiple Filipino sources. The informants subsequently shared a sum of $5 million which was provided by the Bureau of Diplomatic Security’s Rewards For Justice (RFJ) program, the U.S. State Department’s counterterrorism rewards initiative.