Republic of the Philippines: Background and U.S. Relations [Updated August 10, 2007] [open pdf - 260KB]
"This report discusses key issues in U.S.-Philippine relations and developments in Philippine politics, economics, society, and foreign relations. Global terrorism concerns have brought the United States and the Republic of the Philippines (RP), which has been designated a Major Non-NATO ally, closer together. However, they also have produced some bilateral tensions and highlighted weaknesses in Philippine economic, political, and military institutions. The RP faces terrorist threats through reported cooperation among three groups-Jeemah Islamiah (JI), the main Southeast Asian Islamic terrorist organization with ties to Al Qaeda; Abu Sayyaf, a small, violent Muslim separatist group which operates in the southern Philippines; and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), an armed separatist group with alleged ties to both JI and Abu Sayyaf. Since 2002, the Philippines and the United States have carried out joint military exercises on Mindanao and on Basilan and Jolo islands. The exercises on Basilan and Jolo, in which U.S. troops have provided non-combat assistance, have significantly reduced the strength of Abu Sayyaf and resulted in the deaths of some of its senior leaders. Nonetheless, Abu Sayyaf continues to operate through its growing cooperation with JI and some factions of the MILF. Furthermore, the rise of the Rajah Solaiman Movement (RSM), composed of Muslim converts from the northern Philippines, and its cooperation with Abu Sayyaf and the MILF, has the potential to expand the reach of Islamic terrorism to Manila and the main island of Luzon."
CRS Report for Congress, RL33233