Monday, September 10, 2018

Security forces foil bombing attempt in South

From the Mindanao Examiner (Sep 10): Security forces foil bombing attempt in South

The Philippine military disarmed a motorcycle bomb near a police station in the restive Muslim province of Maguindanao.

The motorcycle was laden with dynamites and wired to a blasting cap and a cell phone when policemen and soldiers disrupted the improvised explosives late Sunday in Datu Odin Sinsuat town. It was unclear whether the motorcycle was intentionally parked near the police station or abandoned by its owner upon seeing policemen manning a checkpoint in the area.

No individual or group has claimed ownership of the motorcycle, but authorities were looking at the militant group Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters or BIFF as behind the foiled attack. The military has blamed the BIFF, a small, but one of the most notorious militant groups, for two recent deadly bombings in Isulan town in the neighboring province of Sultan Kudarat.

Dozens of suspected militants from the BIFF and the larger Abu Sayyaf groups operating in Basilan and Sulu provinces in the Muslim autonomous region have been charged in courts for the attacks, including the July 31 suicide bombing in Lamitan City in Basilan, just 30 nautical miles south of Zamboanga, carried out by a Moroccan ISIS soldier Abu Katheer al Maghribi. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack.

Just last week, BIFF militants clashed with soldiers in Maguindanao’s Datu Montawal town that left 3 civilian casualties who were trapped in the crossfire.

Two militants – Mohamid Kambilan and Abdulah Minola – were also captured by soldiers and recovered 3 rifles and a pistol, including ammunition from them. It was unknown if they were included in the criminal complaints filed by the police on Monday in connection to the bombings in Isulan.
But the duo was being linked by the 6th Infantry Division to BIFF faction of militant leader Abu Turaife, who pledged allegiance with ISIS. The captured militants were handed over by soldiers to the municipal police force, according to Captain Arvin Encinas, an army spokesman.

He said the fighting erupted after troops received reports that gunmen were transporting improvised explosives to North Cotabato’s Kabacan town. And soldiers caught up with the militants in the village of Tunggol and a firefight broke out.

Both the BIFF and Abu Sayyaf are fighting for the establishment of a caliphate in the southern region.

Iqbal says 2 of 3 BIFF factions OK MILF’s peace overtures; most radical rejects

From MindaNews (Sep 6): Iqbal says 2 of 3 BIFF factions OK MILF’s peace overtures; most radical rejects

A radical faction of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) Front has rejected overtures from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to respect the new peace deal.

Mohagher Iqbal, chair of the MILF peace implementing panel, said they have sent a team to one of the BIFF factions under the command of Abu Turayfie but their overtures were flatly rejected.

Turayfie did not even bother to meet our team. Their minds are closed,” Iqbal told MindaNews during the consultations on RA 110504 or the Organic Law for the Bangasamoro in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao here on Wednesday.

Mohagher Iqbal, chair of the peace implementing panel of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, is deep in thought during the consultation on RA 11054 or the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao at the Luxe Hotel in Cagayan de Oro on Wednesday, Sept 5, 2018. MindaNews photo by FROILAN GALLARDO
Turayfie heads the faction that the military and police say was responsible for the August 28 and September 2 bombings that left five persons dead and at least 40 others wounded in Isulan town, Sultan Kudarat province last week.

Iqbal said the BIFF is divided into three factions with Turayfie’s group as the most radical.

Ustadz Amiril Umra Kato, commander of the 105th Base Command of the MILF’s Bangsa moro Islamic Armed Forces, broke away from the MILF and set up the BIFF in March 2010. He suffered a stroke in November 2011 and was paralyzed and died in April 2015. Since he fell ill, the BIFF had broken into two and later three factions.

Iqbal said the MILF has sent emissaries to persuade other factions of the BIFF to give the new peace deal forged between the MILF and government a chance.

“The other BIFF factions are talking positively with us except for Turayfie,” Iqbal said.

The MILF has also sent emissaries to the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) faction of Misuari. The MNLF faction under Yusoph Jikiri and Muslimin Sema joined the MILF in drafting the what was then Bangsamoro Basic Law. The law provides for the creation of a new autonomous political entity called the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) that would replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

An MILF source privy to the peace talks said the emissaries to the other rebel groups are urging them to give the BARMM a chance to work.

“They are appealing to these rebel groups to give (it) at least five years,” the source said.

Authorities foil bombing attempt in Maguindanao

From the Philippine Star (Sep 10): Authorities foil bombing attempt in Maguindanao

ISIS-inspired militants are shown preparing for a bombing mission in this photo from barangay officials in Maguindanao.
MAGUINDANAO, Philippines — Authorities foiled on midnight Sunday an attempt to bomb the premises of the Datu Odin Sinsuat municipal police office using an improvised explosive device rigged on a motorcycle.

Chief Superintendent Graciano Mijares of the Police Regional Office-Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao said Monday bystanders noticed the abandoned motorcycle, enabling the local police and Army bomb experts to deactivate promptly the IED placed neatly under its upholstered seat.

The municipal police station in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao is beside roadside vending stalls where people from interior barangays shop for commercial goods, farm tools and other merchandise early in the morning.

“It was very likely that the IED was set to explode in the morning of Monday. It was fortunate enough that vigilant residents and our police personnel there were able to prevent what could have been a bloody IED incident. Vigilance and patriotism among people can really help,” Mijares said.

The PRO-ARMM and units of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division have been securing areas in Maguindanao that are vulnerable to bomb attacks by Islamic State-inspired militants following the fatal August 28 and September 2 bombings in Isulan town.

Isulan is the capital of nearby Sultan Kudarat province, also covered by 6th ID but under the jurisdiction of the Police Regional Office-12.

Five were killed while more than 40 others were injured in the bombings, blamed on the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.

The group is using the black Islamic State flag as banner and has been trying to sabotage the peace process between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

25 suspects face criminal charges for Sultan Kudarat bombing

From Rappler (Sep 10): 25 suspects face criminal charges for Sultan Kudarat bombing
Suspects are said to be members of a breakaway faction of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters
BLAST. A police investigator (left) gathers evidence at the site of a bomb blast in Isulan town on the southern island of Mindanao on August 29, 2018. File photo by AFP
BLAST. A police investigator (left) gathers evidence at the site of a bomb blast in Isulan town on the southern island of Mindanao on August 29, 2018. File photo by AFP

The Philippine National Police (PNP) has charged 25 suspects behind the August 28 bombing incident in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat that killed 3 people and injured 36 others, police chief Director Oscar Albayalde said on Monday, September 10.

The PNP special investigation task group formed to look into the Sultan Kudarat bombings said the suspects, along with several other accomplices, as members of a breakaway faction of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).
According to Albayalde, information on the suspects was filed over the weekend before the office of the provincial prosecutor of Sultan Kudarat. They have not been identified to media as of posting.

On top of martial law, the PNP has also declared full alert status in Mindanao. This means cops are required to work overtime for intensified security patrols, checkpoints, and investigation. (READ: PNP admits 'security lapses' in Sultan Kudarat)

The Demographics of Southeast Asian Jihadism

From War on the Rocks (Sep 5): The Demographics of Southeast Asian Jihadism
 (By Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, Vivian Hagerty, and Madeline Dement)


Shortly after sunrise on July 31, soldiers at a military checkpoint outside Lamitan City in the Philippines’ Basilan province were hailed over to inspect a white 10-seat van suspected of bearing an improvised explosive device. Moments later, the bomb in the vehicle detonated, killing at least 10 people. Among the dead were four civilians, including women and a child.

The brief interactions between the van’s driver and soldiers prior to the blast suggested that the driver was a foreigner, incapable of responding to the soldiers’ questions in the local dialect. The Islamic State soon claimed responsibility for the attack through its Amaq News Agency, stating that a Moroccan national had carried out the “martyrdom operation.” As Aaron Zelin of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy noted, the attack represented the first time that the Islamic State had “claimed a foreign fighter was involved in an attack in the Philippines in official statements.” Among other things, the attack spotlights the question of what kind of person might be responsible for terrorist attacks in Southeast Asia.

There is little research to date elucidating the demographics of typical members of Southeast Asian jihadist groups who may carry out or support attacks like the Lamitan City bombing. This article is designed to advance the state of knowledge about Southeast Asian jihadism by drawing on original research into the demographic characteristics of 242 Southeast Asia-based jihadists. While there are limitations to the representativeness of demographic information derived from open sources, which will be discussed subsequently, having a larger amount of data on the phenomenon can aid in better assessing the plausibility of existing hypotheses about jihadism in the region. This article first describes the methodology that we employed in gathering data about Southeast Asian jihadists, then turns to our major findings about the militants’ sex and age, nationality and place of activity, kinship ties, propensity for prison radicalization, and place of origin.


For more than two years, we — along with other team members at Valens Global — have compiled extensive data mapping the demographics of jihadists throughout the globe. For this article, we supplemented our pre-existing research with additional open-source materials to identify Southeast Asian jihadists whose profiles have come to light since our first compilation of data. In conducting this research, we emphasized information that could be found in regional media sources. Our data set includes 242 individuals involved in jihadist activity in Southeast Asia. Our goal in compiling this data is to be as comprehensive as possible. A significant amount of our research time was devoted to the 2017–18 period, for which we assess that we have been able to compile information on over 80 percent of active Southeast Asian jihadists with sufficient information in the open-source literature describing their demographic profile. The percentage of jihadists included in our data declines in the preceding periods, but we do not consider that problematic for the purposes of this article, which is primarily designed to provide a current demographic snapshot of Southeast Asian jihadists.

It should be acknowledged that there are limits to how representative any sample of jihadist demographics obtained through open-source analysis can be. After all, militant groups are by nature clandestine, so the very fact that an individual is known well enough in open sources to form a demographic profile of him or her makes that person in some ways exceptional in the world of jihadism. Despite this challenge, a competent data-driven analysis can nonetheless help to illuminate the demographics of regional jihadism by painting a fuller picture than existed previously, so long as researchers do not over-interpret their results, and are aware of this representativeness problem.

For all individuals in the data set, we endeavored to collect data on their nationality, country of primary activity, age, sex, kinship ties, education, military history, place of origin, and history of prison radicalization. Though efforts were made to gather all such data for each individual, it was often impossible to find all this information in open-source materials. It is likely that a number of jihadists in this data set also exhibit additional demographic characteristics that could not be ascertained in our research; some of the trends outlined may be even more pronounced than is reflected in our conclusions.

If an individual was noted as participating in jihadist activity in that person’s country of origin, but no other demographic information was available, that person was not included in our data. Individuals were included only if available research indicated at least one demographic characteristic other than nationality and place of primary activity, assuming the place of primary activity was the same as the individual’s country of origin. We created an exception to this rule for women, as female participation in Southeast Asian jihadist activity has historically been rare, and thus warrants inclusion even without other demographic information. Our research was carefully tailored to minimize the risk of double-counting.

Average ages in this study were based on the jihadists’ age at the time of their most recently publicized activity (attack, arrest, death, etc.). When a jihadist’s age was not identified, but another characteristic associated with age was noted (such as the year of graduation from a school), the age was estimated. Though there is some imprecision to such estimates, they were included because otherwise the presence of younger militants might remain invisible to readers, and we assess it as an important trend. Regarding kinship ties, individuals were assessed as related to other jihadists by marriage if the two individuals themselves were married, or if they had a legal familial relationship through a spouse (e.g., brother-in-law, father-in-law).


Sex and Age

Likely the most consequential demographic development in regional jihadism has been the growing role played by women. This development is evident even in the absence of statistical data, as a casual analysis of recent plots and jihadist groups’ shifting strategies reveals the greater female role.

For example, an Indonesian woman, Dian Yulia Novi, plotted in late 2016 to blow herself up in front of the Indonesian presidential palace. Having been radicalized during her time as a domestic worker in Singapore, Novi’s plot represented the first time a woman spearheaded an intended attack in Indonesia. The increase in the number of jihadist women in Indonesia is likely attributable to the 2009 decision of the Mujahidin Indonesia Timur (MIT) to begin training women due to insufficient numbers of male fighters in the group’s ranks. Though MIT’s decision was rendered almost a decade ago, the first attacks in the country actually planned and carried out by women did not occur until Novi’s aforementioned 2016 plot.

Indonesian women have since been increasingly active in violent activities, while Filipino and Malaysian women in our data set tended to act in supporting roles, such as providing financial support. Our data suggests that greater female involvement in jihadism is most clearly evident in Indonesia of the three countries of focus. 58 percent of women in our data set were of Indonesian nationality, while 50 percent of included women were active in Indonesia. Of the 242 individuals in the data, 85 percent were male and 15 percent female.

The average age of Southeast Asian jihadists in our data set was around 31 years, calculated from the ages of the 111 individuals with information available. 20 percent of those individuals were under the age of 20, while two jihadists were over 60. The average age held true even when very young and old outliers were excluded. The average age of radicalized women was between 27 and 28. The average age of the overall population in both Indonesia and Malaysia hovers around 28, while in the Philippines the median age is only 24.

Nationality and Place of Activity 

Scholars studying Southeast Asia generally see the Philippines as critical to regional jihadist efforts. After all, there have been longstanding jihadist campaigns in that country, culminating in the five-month-long Marawi siege in 2017. In that siege, militants took over the city for an extended period before it was liberated by Philippine forces. Further, the Islamic State has called for Southeast Asians who were unable to travel to Syria to instead fight in the Philippines. A number of Islamic State-affiliated groups in the Philippines have been able to draw fighters to the country from abroad. Indonesian jihadists also have a history of traveling to the Philippine region of Mindanao, which has served as a training ground, transit point, and sanctuary for jihadists.

Our data tends to support the notion of the country’s centrality to regional militancy. Of the 242 individuals in our data, 51 percent were recently active in jihadist ventures in the Philippines, with 25 percent active in Indonesia and 15 percent active in Malaysia. In comparison, Indonesia’s overall population dwarfs that of the other two countries, with nearly 264 million individuals in 2017, while the Philippines and Malaysia have populations of around 105 million and 32 million, respectively.

Kinship Ties

Studies examining Southeast Asian jihadist groups find that these organizations have long relied on kinship ties, and our data tends to reinforce this conclusion. A study by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) that examined the pull of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front — a group that was previously jihadist in orientation but now largely acts as a political party — in the Mindanao region showed that the influence of family members was one of the top two factors affecting one’s membership. Of the 242 individuals in our data, 74 had documented familial connections with other members of jihadist groups.

Among the most common kinship ties in jihadist organizations are connections through marriage. Groups like Jemaah Islamiyah have long been strengthened by marriages, which can be a tool for forging strategic ties with other militant organizations. The power of kinship ties is reflected in the background of one person touted late last year as the likely new emir of the Islamic State in Southeast Asia, the Malaysian Amin Baco. (Since then, there have been conflicting reports about whether Baco is deceased.) Baco rose to prominence in part because he was the son-in-law of Isnilon Hapilon, the group’s emir in the Philippines until his death in October 2017. Baco likely married Hapilon’s daughter after he joined the Abu Sayyaf Group. Of the kinship ties in our study’s data, 51 percent were via marriage, whether directly as a spouse or indirectly through in-laws.

39 percent of individuals with familial connections had a parent-child relationship. Another 23 percent of individuals with familial connections had siblings in jihadist groups (a figure that excludes young siblings in parent-directed plots). Familial connections are easily seen in organizations like Abu Sayyaf and the Maute Group, where the leadership includes many members of the same extended family. These groups recognize the benefits of kinship ties, such as loyalty.

While familial connections within and between jihadist organizations have long been important in Southeast Asia, terrorist attacks carried out by nuclear family units are a more recent concern. The May 2018 Surabaya bombings in Indonesia came as a shock to many not only due to their brutality, but also because three families perpetrated the attacks, involving children as young as seven in suicide bombings. The acts of violence were entirely planned and carried out within small family units. While no similar family plots were recorded in this study, there were multiple instances of very young children being brought into jihadist groups by older siblings, while parents were at times offered money and a monthly salary for their children’s membership in jihadist groups.

Prison Radicalization

One concern expressed by Southeast Asian counter-terrorism officials is the possibility of radicalization of previously non-jihadist prison inmates. In both Indonesian and Philippine prisons, convicted terrorists and radicalized individuals are frequently housed alongside low-level criminals. Influential jihadists like Abu Bakar Bashir and Aman Abdurrahman have been able to radicalize other inmates, and even plan and direct attacks from prison.

While we would like to gather more data on the regional prison radicalization phenomenon, our data provides some support for the idea that there is reason for concern. At least seven individuals (2.9 percent) in this study were recruited or radicalized in prisons, with three instances in Indonesia and another four in Malaysia. In the three countries of focus in the study, the average incarceration rate is 0.08 percent, and Malaysia has the highest rate at 0.16 percent. A number of individuals in this study who were recruited or radicalized in prison were initially imprisoned for offenses they committed as low-level drug dealers.


The regional phenomenon related to education that analysts have most frequently remarked upon is the potential for certain primary or secondary schools to serve as hot spots for extremist ideology, as studies have concluded that attendance of Southeast Asian schools with extremist ideologies increases the likelihood of involvement in jihadist activity. Our data tends to reinforce this concern. Nine individuals in our study (3.7 percent) attended primary or secondary schools known to espouse extremist viewpoints. A number attended schools connected to or founded by prominent Indonesian jihadist Abu Bakar Bashir.

The first Indonesian jihadist known to have died fighting in Syria, Riza Fardi, graduated in 2006 from the Al-Mukmin Islamic boarding school in Ngruki founded by Bashir, then taught at the school for a year before beginning his higher education. He was likely influenced by the jihadist teachings known to be prominent at Al-Mukmin.
There were no clearly discernible trends with respect to higher education. 9.5 percent of individuals in this study were known to have completed at least some higher education at the university level, or the religious equivalent. The average participation rate in higher education in the three countries of study is around 31 percent, according to the most recent UNESCO figures. Malaysia has the highest participation rate in tertiary education at 44 percent, while Indonesia has the lowest at 28 percent. In our data set, participation in higher education was more common among more senior members of militant groups. This fact, in turn, gives rise to the possibility that the seeming under-representation of individuals with university-level education may be a statistical illusion, as the educational background of less prominent jihadists may not be readily discernible in open sources.

Place of Origin

The place of origin of most individuals in this study could not be discerned. Of the 17 Indonesians with known places of origin (either a birthplace or where a good deal of their childhood was spent), 16 were from the region of Java, where over half of the greater Indonesian population lives.

A region of the Philippines that is frequently mentioned in scholarly study of Southeast Asian jihadism is the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). Of the eight Filipinos with known places of origin, 100 percent were from Mindanao, with five individuals originating in the ARMM. A significant number of other Filipino jihadists also attended university in this region or had long been active in it, but we could not verify if they actually grew up there. Mindanao has long been plagued by conflict and discontent, dating back to the period of Spanish colonization. The region has a high proportion of Muslims in an otherwise overwhelmingly Catholic country. Mindanao and the ARMM in particular are some of the poorest regions in the Philippines. The World Bank reports that while the national poverty rate is around 16.5 percent, the poverty rate in ARMM is drastically higher at 48.2 percent. 14.4 percent of youth are out of school in ARMM, compared to 10.6 percent nationally.

Foreign fighters in Southeast Asia have been the subject of growing focus, and raised particular concern in the 2017 siege of Marawi, where significant numbers of Indonesians and Malaysians were reported to have fought alongside Filipino militants. There were also reports of participation by Arabs, Chechens, Indians, and other non-Southeast Asian foreign nationals. Claims regarding the presence of these fighters have proven difficult to verify. Even when verification of a certain nationality’s presence is possible, information regarding these fighters’ individual identities has proven hard to obtain and confirm via open sources. Because an individual’s inclusion in this data set was contingent on identity characteristics other than nationality, it is probable that foreign fighters are underrepresented in our sample.

As noted, the data we have gathered represents a biased sample — an unfortunate consequence of any attempt to understand clandestine organizations exclusively through open sources. But, in combination with other sources, our data does provide some insight into the membership of Southeast Asian jihadist groups. Militant groups tend to be learning organizations, and one of the adaptations that they make involves who is involved in their activities, as can be seen in growing female involvement in the region. In addition, globalizing trends — both within and also apart from the jihadist movement — hold out the prospect of a diversifying base of militants, with greater involvement from jihadists outside their countries of origin. It is worth continuing to pay close attention to the evolving demographics of Southeast Asian jihadism.

[Daveed Gartenstein-Ross is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the chief executive officer of the private firm Valens Global. Vivian Hagerty is the deputy research manager at Valens Global. Madeline Dement, a research intern at Valens Global, is currently finishing an academic degree at University of Maryland, Baltimore County.]

Despite martial law, 3 bombings within a month jolt Mindanao

From the Business Mirror (Sep 8): Despite martial law, 3 bombings within a month jolt Mindanao

In Photo: Government forces walk beside damaged homes after a bomb exploded in a van in Lamitan, Basilan, on July 31, 2018. A bomb-laden van driven by a suspected Abu Sayyaf militant went off in a powerful blast in a brazen attack that reignited terrorism fears.
IN the aftermath of the three deadly bombings that gripped central and western Mindanao over the past weeks, the government has implemented tighter security measures in the region, notably President Duterte’s home city of Davao, as government forces continuously hunt the perpetrators behind the deadly blasts.

The tighter security, which is being observed by way of increased conduct of police and military checkpoints, patrols, monitoring and intelligence-gathering operations, was adopted not only to prevent similar attacks, but to fend off a larger plan by terrorists to carry out a possible bigger and wider bombing spree in Mindanao.

The planned acts of terrorism were mapped out and the three bombings that killed a total of 16 people and wounded more than 50 others were also carried out while Mindanao is still under martial rule.

Other provinces as targets

When terrorists detonated a bomb contained in a backpack in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat, on August 28 and killed three people, including a seven-year-old girl, no one had an inkling that it would be followed by another bombing in exactly five days near the same area, not with the security lockdown that was implemented.

As admitted by military officials, including Capt. Ervin Encinas, spokesman of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, while there have been intelligence reports that terrorist groups would carry out bombings, with government forces and even civilians as targets in other provinces in the region, Isulan or Sultan Kudarat did not register as a second or next target all over again.

In fact, they were anticipating that the attack would be carried out against security forces, supposedly in Marbel, South Cotabato, as intelligence reports had earlier indicated.

“There were reports…[on possible] IED [improvised explosive device] attacks. It’s not here in central Mindanao, but in adjacent provinces,” Encinas said after the second bombing in Isulan on September 2, which hit an Internet shop and left two people dead and 14 others injured.

The successive bombings happened despite the existence of intelligence reports about threats of attacks by terrorist groups, as also admitted earlier by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana following the suicide bombing in Lamitan City, Basilan, on August 31 that killed 11 people and wounded at least eight others.

The bombing, according to Lorenzana, was carried out by a Moroccan member of the Islamic State, supposedly for the local terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).

The twin bombings in Sultan Kudarat, on the other hand, were blamed by military officials on the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters or one of its factions that is a believer of the IS.

Basilan attack as a model

When the Lamitan bombing happened, fears ensued that it will be used as a model and would be duplicated by other terrorist groups in waging their campaign against the government. However, this was dismissed by security officials, but to the contrary as shown later by the Isulan blasts.

The bomb, according to Lorenzana and military officials, was intended to bring harm to some 4,000 children who were scheduled for graduation from the feeding program of the Department of Education, and whose event was slated at the city plaza.

In Isulan’s first bombing, the homemade bomb was detonated near a pack of people who had come for the night market as the town marks its twin festivities, including its fiesta.

The second bombing was also detonated inside an Internet café.
All the three attacks were poised for maximum casualty by targeting a large gathering of people.

Terrorism for a cause

While the government is taking measures to address the threats of attacks, not only in central Mindanao but in other parts of the region, security officials were also working to determine what fuels these attacks and the calls that propel them.

While these terror groups are the combination of IS, ASG and Maute and the BIFF or its faction, all were working for slightly different causes, but all pursuing their objectives through terrorism.

In the case of the BIFF or its faction, the group, as noted by the military, intensified its bombing activities right after the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) was passed into law.

The BIFF, a breakaway group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, is opposed to the BOL, whose prime mover was the MILF.

Even Lorenzana admitted that there are groups who wanted to spoil the law for the Moros, as they are not totally sold to the idea.

He said one issue that could spell trouble even among the Moros themselves is the power and position, and who gets them.

“As I see it, the trouble lies in the apportioning or positioning,” Lorenzana said, noting the existence of different Moro tribes.

There are also cities and areas that do not want to be included in the coverage of the BOL.

In the meantime, the defense chief said there are at least six foreign IS members who remain unaccounted for and were stirring the cause of the international terrorist group in Mindanao.

Like a sneak preview for a sequel to a horror movie, such information sends chills down the spine of civilian communities tired of all the war and strife, and looking to finally see peace—and progress—on the horizon. When this will happen, no one knows. Meantime, what was touted as the sense of security the people have from having martial law in Mindanao has been weakened by the knowledge that no amount of preparations can, after all, keep out a determined terrorist.

Cops nab 8 suspects in Basilan bombing

From Rappler (Sep 10): Cops nab 8 suspects in Basilan bombing

10 others remain at large, including Abu Sayyaf leader Furuji Indama
EXPLOSION. The site of an explosion in Barangay Colonia, Lamitan, Basilan, on July 31, 2018. Screenshot from video of Richard Falcatan
EXPLOSION. The site of an explosion in Barangay Colonia, Lamitan, Basilan, on July 31, 2018. Screenshot from video of Richard Falcatan

The Philippine National Police (PNP) has captured 8 suspects in the July 31 Basilan bombing that killed 10, police chief Director General Oscar Albayalde announced on Monday, September 10.
The suspects are said to be behind the checkpoint blast in Lamitan town where an exploded van left 10 dead including its driver, the alleged bomber who looked like a foreigner. They have not been identified as of posting.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana previously said the blast looked like a suicide bombing.

According to Albayalde, 10 suspects remain at large, including alleged mastermind Furuji Indama , leader of the Basilan-based Abu Sayyaf Group.