Furuji Indama

Furuji Indama was a member of the Philippine based terrorist organization Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG). Indama was notorious for leading ASG’s kidnap-for-ransom activities and has been implicated in several deadly terrorist attacks.Carmela Fonbuena, “Basilan car blast: Furuji Indama unleashes terror even in hiding,” Rappler, August 1, 2018, https://www.rappler.com/nation/basilan-blast-abu-sayyaf-furuji-indama-terror-even-in-hiding. In October 2020, the Philippine military announced that it believed Indama had been fatally wounded during a September 2020 clash with the armed forces. The military has been working to locate his remains in order to confirm his death.“Military believes Abu Sayyaf subleader Furuji Indama is dead,” Rappler, October 30, 2020, https://www.rappler.com/nation/military-believes-abu-sayyaf-subleader-furuji-indama-dead. At the time of his alleged death, Indama served as the leader of ASG’s Basilan-based faction.“Protecting the Sulu-Sulawesi Seas from Abu Sayyaf Attacks,” Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict, January 9, 2019, 3, http://file.understandingconflict.org/file/2019/01/IPAC_Report_53_Sulu.pdf.

According to Basilan Governor Jim Hataman, Indama volunteered to join ASG, though it is unclear at what age he became involved. Indama was believed to be a member of a group within ASG known as Ajang-Ajang (“sons of martyrs”), whose relatives were ASG members who died in battle against the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).Carmela Fonbuena, “Basilan car blast: Furuji Indama unleashes terror even in hiding,” Rappler, August 1, 2018, https://www.rappler.com/nation/basilan-blast-abu-sayyaf-furuji-indama-terror-even-in-hiding.

On July 12, 2011, Indama led a group of militants in kidnapping two U.S. nationals, a 43-year-old woman named Gerfa Lunsmann and her 14-year-old son Kevin Lunsmann, who were vacationing on Tictabon Island. The extremists threatened to harm and kill the hostages if ransom payments were not made, then transferred the captives to Basilan Island. Lunsmann was released in October 2011 following ransom payments made to the extremist group by her husband, and Kevin was able to escape two months later in December.United States of America v. John Doe #1, et al., Indictment, (D. Col. 2013), 3-6, https://www.justice.gov/file/180696/download. The U.S. Department of Justice indicted Indama and three co-conspirators in absentia in the District of Columbia on December 4, 2014. The four were charged with conspiracy, hostage-taking, and weapons charges.“Four Men Indicted on Charges in 2011 Kidnapping of Mother and Teenage Son in the Philippines,” U.S. Department of Justice, December 4, 2014, https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/four-men-indicted-charges-2011-kidnapping-mother-and-teenage-son-philippines. The suspects were not in custody when charged and were identified as John Does, but are also known as Furuji Indama, Radzmil Jannatul, Muadz, and Abu Basim.Susan Svrluga, “Four men indicted in overseas kidnapping of 14-year-old American boy, his mother,” Washington Post, December 4, 2014, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/four-men-indicted-in-overseas-kidnapping-of-14-year-old-american-boy-his-mother/2014/12/04/a2b0e954-7bf8-11e4-b821-503cc7efed9e_story.html.

In April 2016, Indama and his followers engaged in a 10-hour firefight against Philippine government forces during AFP operations in Basilan. At least 24 of his followers were killed, including a high-value target—alleged Moroccan-based bomb expert Mohammad Khattab. An AFP spokesperson claimed that Indama was among the slain ASG members and that they were attempting to recover their remains. However, Indama’s death was later proved to be erroneously announced.“Abu Sayyaf leader Furuji Indama critically wounded, says Gazmin,” ABS-CBN News, April 12, 2016, https://news.abs-cbn.com/nation/04/12/16/abu-sayyaf-leader-furuji-indama-critically-wounded-says-gazmin.

Following the death of Isnilon Totoni Hapilon in October 2017, Indama was believed to have taken charge of the Basilan-based ASG faction. Hapilon had been the longtime leader of ASG’s Basilan-based faction and the assumed leader of ISIS in Southeast Asia since 2016.“Protecting the Sulu-Sulawesi Seas from Abu Sayyaf Attacks,” Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict, January 9, 2019, 3, http://file.understandingconflict.org/file/2019/01/IPAC_Report_53_Sulu.pdf. Indama was a close associate of Hapilon and was reportedly groomed to succeed Hapilon.Roel Pareño, “Westmincom confirms death of Abu Sayyaf leader Furuji Indama,” Philstar, October 30, 2020, https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2020/10/30/2053429/westmincom-confirms-death-abu-sayyaf-leader-furuji-indama.

Indama has since been implicated in several deadly terrorist attacks. On July 31, 2018, a car bomb exploded at a checkpoint in Basilan, which killed at least 10 people. According to witnesses, the driver of the vehicle was a foreigner and did not speak the local language. Local authorities said the bombing bore the hallmarks of an ASG attack, though ISIS claimed responsibility via its Amaq News Agency.Jake Maxwell Watts and Ben Otto, “Philippines Car Bombing Linked to Pro-Islamic State Group,” Wall Street Journal, July 31, 2018, https://www.wsj.com/articles/philippines-car-bombing-linked-to-pro-islamic-state-group-1533037917. The national police chief pinpointed Indama as the mastermind behind the attack and he was indicted in absentia in the Philippines along with 17 other ASG members in September 2018.“43 suspects in deadly Philippine bombings face criminal raps,” Associated Press, September 18, 2020, https://apnews.com/article/e4b76c3589474f71a6a9258f2561f2d9. In 2019, Philippine police arrested a number of ASG members operating under Indama, including one suspect linked to a 2015 bombing at a bus terminal that killed an 11-year-old girl.Leizel Lacastesantos, “Alleged Abu member linked to 2017 Zamboanga bus station bombing arrested,” ABS-CBN News, July 24, 2019, https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/07/24/19/alleged-abu-member-linked-to-2015-zamboanga-bus-station-bombing-arrested; “The Philippines: Militancy and the New Bangsamoro,” International Crisis Group, June 27, 2019, https://www.crisisgroup.org/asia/south-east-asia/philippines/301-philippines-militancy-and-new-bangsamoro.

On September 6, 2020, Philippine troops clashed with Indama’s group in the province of Zamboanga Sibugay, forcing Indama to flee. Days later on September 9, a military unit tracked and reportedly killed Indama in a coastal town of the province. Four other ASG fighters were killed and two soldiers were wounded. On October 30, 2020, the head of the AFP’s Western Mindanao Command claimed that Indama had been killed and stated that the military was working to locate his remains.Roel Pareño, “Westmincom confirms death of Abu Sayyaf leader Furuji Indama,” Philstar, October 30, 2020, https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2020/10/30/2053429/westmincom-confirms-death-abu-sayyaf-leader-furuji-indama.

Also Known As

Extremist entity
Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG)
Type(s) of Organization:
al-Qaeda/affiliate, insurgent, ISIS/affiliate, non-state actor, religious, terrorist, violent
Ideologies and Affiliations:
Islamist, jihadist, Salafi, Wahhabi
Position(s):
Leader of Basilan-based faction (deceased)

The Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) is an Islamist terrorist organization that seeks to establish an independent Islamic state in the southern Philippines. ASG is known for kidnapping innocents, including Westerners, for ransom, and beheading captives if their demands are not met.

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