From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Feb 18): New Moro rebel group took part in Mamasapano clash – Iqbal
CAMP SIONGCO, Maguindanao, Philippines – A new group of Moro insurgents was allegedly involved in the tragic Mamasapano clash and this group emerged from the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.
Mohagher Iqbal, the chief negotiator of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), took everyone by surprise here when he said that a third Moro armed group, led by Muhammad Ali Tambako, took part in the clash of January 25.
“It is public knowledge that the BIFF (Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters) broke into three groups: The group of Ameril Umra Kato, the one of Kagui Karialan, and the group of Muhammad Ali Tambako … But now, Tambako has formed another group, and its name is something like “justice,” basta merong “justice” yan (one that has the word “justice” in it),” Iqbal told reporters following the turnover of 16 firearms that MILF members had seized from slain members of the Special Action Force.
Reached for comment, Abu Misri Mama, the spokesperson of the BIFF, did not confirm the splitting of the BIFF into three groups.
He said that Tambako’s group, made up of former BIFF members, came to being after Tambako met with Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chair Nur Misuari in Sulu in October 2013.
Mama said the BIFF leadership was against any meeting with Misuari.
He said Tambako has since named his splinter armed group the United Justice Movement (UJM).
Tambako is materially well-off, according to some people who know him in the local Muslim religious sector. Tambako had studied in Jamiatun (University of) Malik Saud in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, which is why he is addressed as “Ustadz,” according to people who know him.
Police sources said Tambako’s name was not new to them and that they had gotten hold of arrest warrants against him, in connection with his role in 2008 bloody attacks in Maguindanao and North Cotabato over the botched memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain.
Clearly, the timing is flawed and the aftermath is devastating. A lapse in judgment call is indeed clearly established; the consequence, however, is even more tragic and it is sending the BBL reeling on its track and it might not pass Congress at all.
We are not suspecting the leadership of the SAF-PNP of any ill-intention in executing their plan on that precise moment. However, even the best of intention and action can be manipulated by outside interests. Remember the attack of Sabah led by Agbimuddin Kiram of the Sultanate of Sulu in February 2013 and attack of Zamboanga City by the MNLF faction of Chairman Nur Misuari in September 2013. They were not fully planned by the leaderships of these groups; unseen hands and funds were reportedly part of the equations.
The case of Mamasapano clash also shows some of the demonic hands that spread lies, hatred, outrage, and other forms of demonic agenda. Never mind Federico D. Pacual Jr. of the Philippine Star and Rigoberto Tiglao Jr. of the Manila Times, they are the breed of men who cannot argue with sense when it comes to Moros in Mindanao. Their eyes and hearts are sealed, as if they were living during the height of the Moro-Spanish War in the 16th century.
Pieces of evidence are slowly flowing in that the same group, which dipped their bloody hands into the Sabah and Zamboanga City fiascos, is again at play here. They are attacking the BBL, MILF and President Benigno Aquino simultaneously. They appeared to be well-oiled and organized.
However, the MILF never feels threatened by this orchestrated spoiling. First, we are on the side of truth that the MILF is also victim in this unfortunate incident. We never thought of fighting the SAF commandos that dawn of January 25 or any other day for that matter. The ceasefire between the MILF and government has been observed with sincerity by both sides and, in fact, since 2011 there has never any single clash between them. Second, the MILF has never coddled “terrorists” or much more Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, and Abdulbasset Usman, who were holed up in a non-MILF area.
This truth will be ridiculed first and then opposed, but in the end, it becomes self-evident, which will lead to the vindication of the MILF. And third, we know there is no way ahead of us except to solve the armed conflict in Mindanao peacefully and this will be through the passage of a good BBL in Congress. The resort to all-out war policy by government is not a good decision.