The Philippine National Police reports that is closely monitoring the movements of former members of the Alex Boncayao Brigade under suspicion of their links to Islamist extremism.
National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) Chief, Director Oscar Albayalde, said in a press conference that police intelligence operatives have reported that former ABB members who converted to Islam are now in Manila: “We’ve monitored a few of them who converted to Islam. As what we’ve observed in Mindanao, itong mga extremists, basically most of them are ‘balik Islam’. Although not all balik Islam are extremists.”
Albayalde assured that even as they monitor for possible IS allegiance, they are confident that these individuals are not capable of carrying out a massive attack.
The Alex Boncayao Brigade was a death squad that reached peak notoriety in the 1980s, for a string of Manila-based assassinations carried out on the orders of the Communist Party of the Philippines. The group was named after a labor leader turned guerrilla who was killed by security forces in 1983.
The idea for the death squad was based on how the main organization’s rebels were unused to the urban terrain. They conceived of “hit squads of up to four men, who would carry out targeted assassinations of government officials, businessmen, soldiers, and police.” The Britannica’s entry on the group notes, “Although the number of actual assassins was quite small—some sources estimate as few as 30, even during the peak of the brigade’s activity—their support system was vast, with as many as 500 other members providing intelligence, supplies, and safe houses.”
They originated from the New People’s Army but broke off due to internal politics and the factioning characteristic of communist groups. In 1997, they allied themselves with the Revolutionary Proletarian Army. Some surviving members have since rehabilitated.
Their most recent high-profile assassination carried out as a cohesive group was in December 1995, in a series of attacks on local business executives. The year prior, its commanding officer, Felimón Lagmán, had been arrested, leaving the organization temporarily leaderless.