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Broadcaster tells of encounter with Omar Maute

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Broadcaster tells of encounter with Omar Maute

Destruction caused by the fighting in Marawi —JEOFFREY MAITEM

MARAWI CITY — Had he known that Islamic State-inspired gunmen had already saturated the streets of Marawi, broadcast journalist Maulana Mamutuk would not have gone to their radio station to rescue his Christian co-workers.

“This is my second life. Had I known they were in the streets, I would not have gone there,” he said.

Mamutuk, who was in Manila when the clashes here flared up on May 23, said he had to rush back to Marawi the next day to save his coworkers.

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‘I recognized him’

“As I was heading to the radio station (Ranao Radio Inc.), I saw no one in the streets. Only armed men. They stopped me for questioning. I saw Omar Maute from afar from where I was stopped. I know him … I recognized him because of the  ‘Wanted’ posters everywhere. He, too, recognized me because I have programs on radio and TV in Marawi,” Mamutuk told the Inquirer on Saturday.

Omar is Omarkhayam, one of the leaders of the Maute group.

“I was so scared. He came to me and asked if I was a Muslim. I said yes,” he said.

To “calm” Omar down, Mamutuk told him that he was a friend of his father, Cayamora.

“I asked for a picture with him but he refused. I told him that I would interview him but he also refused,” he added.

He said Omar instead asked him to interview their spokesperson, Abu Hafs.

In the interview, Abu Hafs explained that they carried out the attack to forcibly implement the Islamic Sharia Law in Marawi.

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Sacrifice for Sharia Law

Covering his face with a scarf, Abu Hafs said they wanted the people of Marawi to sacrifice lives and property for ‘‘the total implementation of Sharia Law.”

He said the sacrifice ‘‘will be nothing compared to the favor Allah will give to us soon,” Mamutuk quoted Abu Hafs as saying.

The spokesperson also denied reports that their actions had something to do with politics. The video interview was later posted on Mamutuk’s Facebook account.

“I was thinking then that they won’t let me go after the interview. I asked them to spare our radio station from destruction,” he said. “After that, he allowed me to go and get my non-Muslim workers at the radio station.”

Checkpoint password

Mamatuk said Omar also gave him the password for them to pass through at least seven checkpoints set up by the terrorist  group.

The password was “Uztads,” as Omar himself was recognized as Uztads in their group.

“That’s what I said to the Maute men guarding the checkpoints. They did not question my four Christian coworkers. I also told them that Omar allowed them to pass through on their way to the capitol,” he added.

He said around 20 to 25 gunmen were guarding each checkpoint.

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TAGS: Abu Hafs, Islamic State, Marawi siege, Maulana Mamutuk, Maute group, Mindanao martial law, Omar Maute
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