NOTHING BUT THUGS: Martin Burnham is dead after a year in captivity with the Abu Sayyaf, a terrorist group in the Philippines showing their thuggish ways. Filipino nurse Ediborah Yap, also a captive, died in the apparent effort to rescue the hostages. Gracia Burnham was shot while escaping, but remains alive.
The NY Times article says:
Abu Sayyaf began as a radical Islamic group more than a decade ago.
At that time, its mission was to establish a Muslim state in the southern Philippines. The founding members received military training in Afghanistan during the war against the Soviet Union, and later in Libya. The group is believed to have had ties to Al Qaeda, but Filipino officials said those links faded in the mid-1990's.
The group later became more interested in kidnap-for-ransom.
It's nice to see the NY Times "get it" about this group - they're just a bunch of criminals, not some altruists fighting a holy war against oppression and McDonald's - but the Times doesn't make that connection with Al Qaeda and some governments in the Middle East and elsewhere. There aren't noble "root causes" that give birth to such behavior; it's not about even a marginal effort to make things better in their own countries, to build a society where people are aided in achieving the basics of the human condition. It's about power and money for the leaders and their minions. While the United States can't go around dismantling power-hungry, greedy governments all over the world for humanitarian reasons, when that desire for power gives birth to a resentment of and attacks against us - or support for those attacks - it's time to take them down.