Wednesday, July 9, 2014

200 Muslim militants from Mindanao joining ISIS – reports

From the Manila Bulletin (Jul 9): 200 Muslim militants from Mindanao joining ISIS – reports

Authorities are looking into reports that 200 Muslim militants have slipped out of Mindanao to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighting in Syria and Iraq.

An expert on terrorism in Mindanao who spoke on condition of anonymity said he had learned of the “raw” reports which are still subject to validation by military and police intelligence units.

The reports said the militants left Mindanao for Somalia to join others at a staging point for groups seeking to join ISIS forces in the Middle East, the expert said.

ISIS, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL), is headed by its self-proclaimed leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who holds a PhD in Islamic studies.

The extremist group now controls a large area on the borders of Iraq and Syria which it declared a Muslim Caliphate.

Through a video, the ISIS leader called on all Muslims around the world to join his group and obey him as the leader.

According to reports, the 200 Muslim militants who allegedly slipped out from Mindanao may be members of the Khalifa Islamiyah Mindanao (KIM), a terrorist group that uses a black flag similar to the ISIS emblem.

KIM members are said to be idealistic young Moro fighters who were hosted by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), the group that broke away from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

But a security official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, dismissed the reports of Muslims from Mindanao joining the ISIS.

“What I heard is that there are 200 Australian Muslims who are fighting side by side with ISIS, that’s Australian Muslims, no Flipinos,” he said.

He said there are many Filipinos in both Syria and Iraq but they are overseas Filipino workers employed in government facilities.

“They are not fighting with the rebels. Wala tayong Muslim galing dito na pumunta doon to fight alongside with the rebels,” he said.

The reports about the militants travelling to the Middle East came days after a Malaysian newspaper reported about the existence of four new terrorist organizations aiming to establish an Islamic Caliphate in Southeast Asia that would include Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, southern Thailand and southern Philippines.

Malaysia’s New Straits Times claimed the new groups, which mutated from terror cells such as the Jemaah Islamiyah and the Kumpulan Mujahidin Malaysia, have embarked on aggressive recruitment drive for members.

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