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MILF forms task force to fight off recruitment for ISIS

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MILF forms task force to fight off recruitment for ISIS

/ 12:13 PM January 27, 2016
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Moro Islamic Liberation Front chief peace negotiator Mohagher Iqbal. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/RAFFY LERMA

COTABATO CITY, Philippines — The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) said it has formed a task force to counter the recruitment activities being conducted in the name of the Islamic State in Central Mindanao and nearby areas.

Mohagher Iqbal, MILF chief negotiator, said the formation of the task force came in the wake of confirmed reports that some personalities, claiming to have links with IS, have been convincing people in such areas as Cotabato, Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur to support and join their cause for the establishment of the Islamic caliphate.

“The recruitment activities as well the video of their training that came out were authentic,” Iqbal said.

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However, he said that the MILF was still verifying if the recruitment was organized.

“But whether or not there is already a formal organization of the IS in Mindanao, that is still a subject for validation,” Iqbal said.

He said the task force that the MILF has formed — “composed of Islamic preachers in Mindanao” — would counter the distortion of the Koran and Islamic teachings by those recruiting for IS.

Sheikh Abu Hurayrah Abdulrahman Udasan, grand mufti of the Philippines, earlier said the recruitment activities by IS-inspired personalities in Mindanao was disturbing and alarming as they openly have been flouting the teachings of the Koran.

Udasan called IS haram (forbidden) and its teachings not recognized.

“(IS) is against the teachings of Koran. The teaching of Koran is peace, they are extremists, sometime they execute people, even women, this is un-Islamic,” he said.

Iqbal said some people – including Moro professionals – have been swayed into IS because of frustration over the fate of the Bangsamoro.

“They are frustrated. They thought their leaders in the MILF and Moro National Liberation Front have abandoned their struggle. The failure in the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law is also a source of frustration,” he said.

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The recruitment activities of the IS-inspired Al Ansar Khalifa was first confirmed by Cotabato City Mayor Japal Guiani Jr., who said that 30 of the recruits came from this city.

Early this month, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte also confirmed that an IS-affiliated group has already started recruiting members in Mindanao and without a government response, a serious terror attack could soon occur.

Joel Maturan, former mayor of Ungkaya Pukan in Basilan, also said he knew for a fact that there has been ISIS recruitment in Basilan.

“I kept my silence after I was criticized for making it public but in my place, I know this group is still small,” he said.

In December, the military maintained that there was no conclusive evidence that IS has infiltrated Mindanao even with its admission that a Malaysian jihadist was recently killed in Basilan.

Maj. Gen. Mayoralgo dela Cruz, commander of the Western Mindanao Command, told reporters here they were very careful in associating the Abu Sayyaf with the ISIS (Islamic State of Syria and Iraq) “because we don’t have conclusive evidence that these ASG members are ISIS.”

Brig. Gen. Allan Arrojado, commander of the Army’s 501st Infantry Brigade, said he too could not confirm that ISIS has reached Sulu, where the Abu Sayyaf has also been operating.

“I don’t see one and I will not confirm any because it will only enhance their propaganda,” he said.

Lawyer Anwar Malang, the secretary of the Interior and Local Governments in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said educating the youth would be vital and timely to address the problem on terrorism with the advent of the IS.

“The young are vulnerable to indoctrination and deception by militant and radical groups,” he said.  SFM

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TAGS: 501st Infantry Brigade, abu sayyaf, Acts of terror, Al Ansar Khalifa was first confirmed by Cotabato City Mayor Japal Guiani Jr., Allan Arrojado, Anwar Malang, Basilan, Central Mindanao, Cotabato, Davao City, IS, ISIS, Islamic Caliphate, Islamic State, Islamic State of Syria and Iraq, Joel Maturan, Lanao del Sur, Local authorities, Local Governments, Maguindanao, mayor, Mayoralgo dela Cruz, Mohagher Iqbal, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Nationalism, news, Philippine Army, recruitment, Regions, Rodrigo Duterte, Security, Sheikh Abu Hurayrah Abdulrahman Udasan, Terrorism, terrorist network, terrorist recruitment, Ungkaya Pukan, Western Mindanao Command
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