Abdurajak Janjalani was the charismatic Islamic fundamentalist founder and leader of the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group currently operating in Mindanao and the southern islands of the Philippines.

Initially provided with a public school education, he studied Islamic jurisprudence in Saudi Arabia under a scholarship provided by the MNLF. He then went on to receive military training in Libya, and afterwards fought alongside rebels in Afghanistan against the Soviets.

His education and training in the Middle East made him a hardcore Islamic fundamentalist, shunning "sinful" influences such as TV, radio, or even singing and dancing. This was a rarity in the Philippines, whose Muslim population have been adherents of moderate Sunni Islam for decades.

His rhetoric attracted several young Muslim scholars who, like him, had just returned from the Middle East, as well as several others who were disillusioned with the older separatist movements like the Moro National Liberation Front. When it seemed the MNLF were dead-set on reaching an agreement with the government, Janjalani broke away, setting up his own organization under his alias, Abu Sayyaf, which soon became the name of the organization itself.

Using a force of only 20 men, he orchestrated a series of bombings in and around Zamboanga del Norte in 1992, including several churches. Under his leadership, membership swelled to about 600 men by the time of his death. While initially claiming that his war was only on the military, he made nationwide headlines with the 1995 Ipil Massacre, where 54 civilians in the town of Ipil, Zamboanga del Norte were killed and the public market, along with most of the town, was burned to the ground.

Janjalani was killed in a chance encounter in 1998, when his force of 20 rebels attempted to assault a 12-man police detachment. Four months later, his younger brother Khadafy Janjalani took over the Abu Sayyaf.

Details from the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Asiaweek, and various news broadcasts from GMA-7, ABS-CBN-2 and ANC-21.

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