DAVAO CITY—A renegade Moro rebel group described as a figment of the government’s imagination the so-called Khilafah Islamiyah Movement (KIM) that authorities blamed for recent bomb attacks in parts of Mindanao.
Abu Misry Mama, spokesperson of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), said the government is conjuring up images of a new terror group to “sow fear.”
The BIFF, composed of former members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), made the comment after top government officials—Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief Gen. Emmanuel Bautista and Philippine National Police Chief Alan Purisima—went around Mindanao for a series of security conferences.
Admitting that the information about KIM has yet to be validated, officials nevertheless described the previously unheard of group as an emerging threat.
“There is no such group here in Mindanao,” said Mama.
Mama said he believed that the real target of the military offensive launched on July 6 against BIFF was Marwan, a Malaysian operative of the terror cell Jemaah Islamiyah.
“But he is not here. We do not even have camps to shelter him,” Mama said.
The MILF also expressed skepticism over KIM, saying the new group is “a creation of a sector within the military to discredit the peace talks.”
“We are not certain if this really exists or not,” said Von Al-Haq, spokesperson of the MILF’s Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces.
The BIFF has owned up to the Aug. 7 roadside bomb attack that wounded seven soldiers in Shariff Saydona Mustapha in Maguindanao but denied being behind the Aug. 5 bombing in Cotabato City that left eight persons dead and at least 30 others wounded.
Cotabato City administrator Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi said she was the target of the attack. “It’s not KIM,” she said.
The BIFF also denied having a hand in the July 26 bombing in Cagayan de Oro City that left eight people dead and at least 40 others hurt.
The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group has identified a certain Usman Hapids, alias “Mam Man,” as the KIM member who carried out the attack in Cagayan de Oro City.
Gazmin earlier said KIM is an umbrella group of rogue members of the MILF and the BIFF who want to sabotage peace talks between the MILF and the government.
Maj. Leo Bongosia, spokesperson of the military’s 4th Infantry Division based in Cagayan de Oro, said reports point to KIM as being behind the recent bomb attacks. Karlos Manlupig, Julie S. Alipala and Charlie C. Señase, Inquirer Mindanao