In the second decade of the 21st century, the Philippine terrorist organisation the Abu Sayyaf, predominately domiciled in the southern Philippines, added a new dimension to their kidnap-for ransom enterprise - piracy. Accompanied by kidnap-for-ransom as opposed to traditional piracy which, in the main, this involved the robbery of an ocean-going vessel's crew, cargo, or even the vessel itself. The Abu Sayyaf has been in existence in some form or another for over a quarter of a century in the greater Mindanao region of the southern Philippines. Originally formed with the intention of creating an independent Muslim State in the southern Philippines, it has degenerated into a number of sub-groups whose sole endeavour is now kidnap-for-profit, accompanied in many instances - if a ransom is not paid - by beheading of the kidnap victims. Flush with funds, the various groups were able to purchase small fast-moving vessels and embarked on piracy in the greater Sulu and Celebes Seas region. This publication focuses on the "explosion" of Abu Sayyaf piracy in the region in 2016 and 2017.
Dr Bob East is an Australian researcher and author whose primary work involves research into the criminality of the Abu Sayyaf in the southern Philippines - an area he has travelled to on many occasions. In addition to his doctoral thesis and presentations at many national and international conferences, he has authored the books Terror Truncated: The Decline of the Abu Sayyaf Group from the Crucial Year 2002 (2013); 472 Days Captive of the Abu Sayyaf: The Survival of the Australian Warren Rodwell (2015); and The Neo Abu Sayyaf: Criminality in the Sulu Archipelago of the Republic of the Philippines (2016).