BIFF leaders ousted by moderate Islamic clerics – Muslim preacher
COTABATO CITY — A group of moderate Islamic clerics has staged a “coup” and “ousted” incumbent leaders of the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement (BIFM) and its military arm, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Maguindanao.
An Imam identifying himself as Abu Amir issued press statements Saturday and granted radio interviews here over the weekend, announcing the takeover by the new BIFF leaders.
Amir has claimed being the BIFF’s official spokesperson. The BIFF is now headed by Imam Minimbang alias “Kagi Karialan,” according to Amir.
“They (original BIFM and BIFF leaders) are now so identified with ISIS while we are not. We are loyal to the cause of the Moro people and we adhere to the teachings of the Qur’an,” Amir said in a statement, referring to Sheik Esmael Abubakar alias Commander Bungos and his group.
Amir said Kagi Karialan was BIFM founding chair Imam Ameril Umra Kato’s trusted lieutenant before he died in 2015.
But Abu Misri Mama, BIFF spokesperson, quickly denied the new group’s claimed of new leadership.
Mama sees the military’s hand in the supposed “coup” and insisted he remained to be the group’s spokesperson and Commander Bungos, its overall head.
He told the Philippine Daily Inquirer in a phone interview that before Kato died, he handed over the leadership to Commander Bungos, his most trusted aide and a relative.
According to military sources, Karialan commands bigger followers of Moro rebels operating mainly in Maguindanao’s second district and they are more moderate than Commanger Bungos’ group.
The BIFF is composed of about 1,300 former Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) guerrillas who bolted out of the biggest Moro rebel group over ideological differences.
Kato formed the BIFF in 2008 following the botched Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain between the Philippine government and the MILF.
Karialan, like Commander Bungos, is wanted for various criminal offenses, including murder, extortion and roadside bombings against military and civilians in Maguindanao.
The group was also blamed for the deaths of 44 elite police forces in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, after the police killed Malaysian bomb-making expert Zulkifli bin Hir in January 2015. SFM
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