Friday, July 22, 2016

Apparent BIFF split revealed as new faction spokesman emerges

From InterAksyon (Jul 22): Apparent BIFF split revealed as new faction spokesman emerges

A contributed file photo shows BIFF commander Ustadz Karialan lecturing to followers.

The Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters appears to have split into two over disagreements about pledging loyalty to the Islamic State.

The rift within the armed group, which broke away from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front some eight years ago, was revealed after Abu Amir, the new faction’s spokesman, spoke over local radio stations Friday.

"We are not to be swayed by the (IS) ideology because we adhere to the cause of the Moro struggle and teachings of the Koran," Amir said, explaining why they broke away from the leadership of Imam Bongos and long-time BIFF spokesman Abu Misry Mama.

Amir said their faction recognizes the leadership of Imam Minimbang, also known as Ustadz Karialan.

Both Bongos and Karialan are wanted for multiple murder, harassment, and extortion.

The BIFF, whose operations are limited to the peripheries of Maguindanao province, split from the MILF after its late founder, Ameril Umbra Kato, refused to give up the cause of establishing an independent Islamic state in Mindanao.

The group is believed to have at most 500 fighters.

However, Misry, in a separate interview, denied the split and accused the military of concocting the scenario of a power struggle within their organization. Misry did not elaborate on the matter.

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