Saturday, April 4, 2015

BIFF now weak after fall of group's finance chief, Army says

From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 4): BIFF now weak after fall of group's finance chief, Army says

The arrest of the finance officer of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) has further weakened the terrorist group because it cuts the group’s “bread and butter.”

Joint police and military forces arrested on Tuesday night Abdulgani Pagao, finance officer of Justice for Islamic Movement (JIM), a faction of the BIFF and headed by Mohammad Ali Tambako.

Tambako was arrested in Gen. Santos City with four others. He was the second ranking officer of BIFF next to Uztads Ameril Umra Kato who has been bed ridden due to old age.

Tambako formed his own group called JIM.

It was Tambako who provided information about Pagao and eventually to his arrest in Cotabato City, according to Army Capt. Joann Petinglay.

Petinglay, speaking for the 6th Infantry Division, said Pagao was arrested on the basis of a search warrant issued by Judge Bansawan Ibrahim of Regional Trial Court Branch 15 in Cotabato City.

To date, two BIFF ranking leaders arrested, three BIFF commanders and about 148 followers have been killed in the month-long all out military law enforcement operations.

On the government side, 10 soldiers, including an Army Scout Ranger captain, were killed and 33 wounded.

Armed Forces chief Lt. Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang visited the Barangay Tukanalipao in west of Mamasapano and announced that the military will continue to hunt down the remaining forces of the BIFF.

“It will be calibrated, small-scale commando-style operations by Army Rangers to prevent dislocation of villagers,” Catapang said.

The military remained on alert in Maguindanao as intelligence information showed that the BIFF will avenge the death of “Commander Bisaya,” leader of the group’s hit squad that ligquidated at least six unarmed soldiers in Datu Saudi and Datu Piang towns in Maguindanao.

Commander Bisaya, whose real name is Yusof Abisali, was killed with two other ranking BIFF commanders, siblings Norodin and Salahudin Indong, in a clash with elements of the 34th Infantry Battalion and the 1st Mechanized Brigade after the military imposed suspension of military operations (SOMO) to allow graduation ceremonies in Datu Saudi, Datu Salibo and Datu Unsay towns.

Four soldiers, including an ambulance driver, were also killed in the ensuing fire fights.

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