Is Abu Sayyaf a Real Terrorist Group? Is Saeed Hashimi an Actual Terrorist?

‘Land of Bad’ is a military-focused, action-driven film that revolves around a special forces unit’s extraction mission in the southern Philippines. Following a good vs. evil narrative, the film features Air Force Sergeant JJ Kinney as the protagonist, who delves into enemy territory with his team members to rescue an intelligence asset. However, the unit’s mission rapidly goes sideways after a local terrorism group, Abu Sayyaf, and its leader, Saeed Hashimi, lead them into an ambush attack. Consequently, Kinney, the JATC drone specialist, works together with the drone operator, Captain Eddie “Reaper” Grimm, operating from back in America, to try and rescue his squad from the situation intact.

The film handles the technical aspects of such military missions with smooth precision, maintaining striking authenticity that blends seamlessly into the narrative. For the same reason, fans may be curious to know if the story holds authenticity to reality when it comes to the tale’s other aspects, specifically the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group.

Abu Sayyaf Is a Real Terrorist Group In The Philippines

Although ‘Land of Bad’ equips fictitious characters and events in its tale, it maintains ties to reality through the realistic portrayal of military aspects, including the addition of Abu Sayyaf, a real-life Islamic pirate group. The Jihadist militant, known as Islamic State – East Asia Province, by the Islamic State has been labeled a terrorist organization on record by numerous major nations, such as the United States, the United Kingdom, UAE, and Australia, among others.

In fact, the Philippines, where the group is based in the country’s southern region, also declared the group a terrorist organization after they claimed responsibility for the M/V Doulos in Zamboanga’s 1991 bombing. Over the years, since its establishment in the 1990s, Abu Sayyaf has been responsible for hundreds and hundreds of terrorist attacks, partaking in bombings, ambushes, and raids that result in a death toll.

One of their most destructive crimes took place on February 27, 2004, when the Abu Sayyaf Group bombed the Superferry, which resulted in the deaths of 116 people and left 300 injured. Therefore, the magnitude of the group’s crimes that ‘Land of Bad’ depicts is not outside of the realm of reality. As such, while the terrorist group itself exists in real life, the film’s storyline involving Abu Sayaf and the featured specific crimes in the Philippines against Russian and American parties remains a work of fiction.

For the same reason, Robert Rabiah’s character, Saeed Hashimi, does not have a basis in reality. Instead, he’s simply an antagonistic character created by screenwriter Director/writer William Eubank and his co-writer David Frigerio in service of the plot. For the most part, his character remains a stereotypical “terrorist leader” character within the army film, imposing his brutality to allow space for the primary characters’ heroism.

Viewers can find characters holding a resemblance to Hashimi in numerous similar action military movies, rendering the character archetype a genre convention. Consequently, Hashimi becomes an easily recognizable villain, requiring little effort from the plot to set up his position within the story. The same creates clear spaces for the “good guys” and the “bad guys,” playing into the film’s uncomplicated action-flick identity.

Thus, even though Hashimi’s connection to the Abu Sayyaf group suggests a relation to reality, the character came into creation without any real-life counterpart behind him. Ultimately, the film equips Abu Sayyaf’s real-life identity as a known terrorist organization within its storyline while fictionalizing the events surrounding the group, including their leader, Saeed Hashimi.

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