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Pirate Terrorists as an International Threat

The rise in globalization rates has brought numerous positive effects, including improvements in the economy, political relationships, and social interactions. However, it has also aggravated the threats to which people have been exposed, including one of the terrorist attacks. In his 2019 article, Mark Bowden describes an instance of a terrorist kidnapping that occurred in a Philippine resort, as well as the challenge of rescuing the hostages and the efforts taken by all those involved, including the special unit and the officials, in saving people’s lives.

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The story of the fight against pirate terrorists started on May 27, 2001. Using a rather military-looking vehicle and carrying an impressive range of weapons, several members of an Islamist organization known as Abu Sayyaf, or “Bearers of the Sword,” were on their way toward implementing the goals of their newly formed organization. Specifically, the Filipino crew was about to perform guerilla operations in the target setting.

As the author remarks, the nature of the conflict that sparked the development of the organization mentioned above, namely, the disagreement regarding the Sulu legal status, was quite small-scale, yet the local residents were eager to take it to a broader political level by means of terrorist actions. Bowden (2019) names Aldam Tilao as the leader of the terrorist group, mentioning Aldam’s rather stereotypical, almost Hollywood-esque pirate look.

Although Tilao was the official leader of the group, Khadaffy Janjalani quickly took charge of the team due to his leadership skills and the presence of rather clear goals. Defined by his criminal past and the related experiences, these goals set the roadmap for the terrorist organization to perform its atrocious actions and usurp power wherever it could. Bowden (2019) also briefly mentions Tilao’s background, mentioning his failed academic attempts, specifically, his dropout from Zamboanga College (Mindanao).

As Bowden (2019) explains, Tilao’s experience defined his further decision to accept the role of a leader within a local terrorist organization and use violence and terrorism to maintain his living. Furthermore, Tilao’s ambitions spread as far as taking jihad to the global level and establishing the global reign of his organization. According to Bowden (2019), Tilao was also quite successful in his attempts at building a social media presence by using the local radio. Therefore, the terrorist’s background could be described as quite diverse, yet his heavy leaning toward jihadist ideas and the belief that terrorism was the only way of building relationships on the global political level defined his further fate.

On the day described in Bowden’s article, the terrorist chose Amanpulo as the target for his attack. Amanpulo was known as a luxurious resort in the target area, which attracted a large number of tourists every year, thus, being very vulnerable to a terrorist attack. Due to a minor disruption in their plans, the pirates headed for Dos Palmas, where they found around twenty tourists sleeping peacefully. Among the victims, there were several Americans, including a married couple, who were heading to the islands to celebrate their wedding anniversary. Finally, there was an American businessperson, Guillermo Sobero, who was sneaking from his wife to have an affair.

As the terrorists attacked, they managed to fight the guards rather quickly and started targeting visitors one by one, banging on each cottage door in order and robbing the residents. Martin Burnham was the first victim of the terrorists; after he opened the door, the guerillas captured him and took him away immediately. After every single member of the resort was captured, the team started steering the boat toward Brazil, the possible location of its hideout. As a result, the process of chasing the terrorists and minimizing the risk to which the people taken hostage were exposed, and their lives were terminated by the gang members. Consequently, very little information about the pirates has been disclosed throughout the process of kidnapping as well as its partial outcomes. The cultural background of the pirates does not appear to have gad any substantial meaning for allowing the criminals to identify female hostages and release them. Indeed, according to the author, Ash Sarkar ad several other Americans did not imply either the suggestion that the specified point had not been brought up multiple times and just as profoundly ignored.

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However, the described state of the boat and its crew did not discourage the pirates from further attempts at attacking civilians. Recalling the past instances of people escaping, the author mentions that, in a kidnapping situation, some of the victims could consider the opportunity to address the issue. In turn, the terrorists started voicing their lack of agreement with the course of actions undertaken by the British n German government. The lack of response, specifically, a public statement or a similar act of courage that people desperately need in this day of age was dismissed as insignificant.

Remarkably, one of the criminals attempted at starting a conversation with the kidnapped people. Specifically, he addressed his difficult life and the complicated life choices that he had to make. Burnham attempted at explaining the situation to the gang leader, pointing out that he and his wide were entirely innocent and that the needs and demands of the gang could be met in a way that would satisfy them. Therefore, the negotiation process occurred rather smoothly, with only several minor instances of the security breaches. However, given the fact that the people used by the terrorists as the human should against the police were themselves approaching the kidnappers.

As the fifteenth night of the kidnap approached, the gang members decided that the victims should communicate with the government and state officials, thus serving as intermediaries between the state and the terrorists. As soon as the information about the kidnap reached the Philippian president, she dismissed the idea of negotiating with the criminals immediately, choosing to act instead. Claiming to have adopted the approach of force against force, the president deployed the tools that allowed capturing the terrorists. However, the next night, the terrorists took their victims and vanished in the midst of the island wilderness.

Describing the kidnapping and the efforts taken to locate the terrorists and their victims in meticulous detail, Bowden (2019) has managed to recreate the very spirit of the investigation and the rescue mission performed in order to help the victims of the terrorists. The article may have taken some liberties with the details of the story and the interactions between the participants, yet it has managed to capture the feeling of despair, the emotional strain under which all those involved were at the time, and the devastating sense of loss due to the deaths of innocent victims. Providing substantial material for further speculations, the article leaves the reader with a moral dilemma to address.


Bowden, M. (2019). Jihadists in Paradise A kidnapping at a Philippine resort triggered a yearlong hunt for pirate terrorists and their American hostages. A behind-the-scenes tale of intrigue, spycraft, and betrayal. The Atlantics. Web.

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