Frustrated ground fighters of Philippines Muslim rebels engaged in peace talks with government join Islamic State group

Filipino Muslim rebels belonging to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front stand along the road in Sultan Kudarat town in the southern Philippines, November 26, 2017.

Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels are seen on board a vehicle Monday, Nov. 27, 2017 during their assembly in Sultan Kudarat town in Maguindanao. President Rodrigo Roa Duterte promsid the rebel group to ask lawmakers to have a special session to discuss and pass a law that will give them full autonomy in Mindanao.

MAGUINDANAO, Dec. 1 — Fighters of the country’s largest rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, have joined the Islamic State militants in the region as they were frustrated in the delayed passage of a law that will give them full autonomy in Mindanao.

Mohaqher Iqbal, chief negotiator of the MILF, said Thursday based on his latest information no commanders from them have defected except for young fighters and relatives of their leaders.

“We created a task force to talk to our commanders. We have really to engaged them…we mobilized our Islamic religious leaders to tell them teach real teaching of Islam,” Iqbal said.

“People, like in Marawi, they have been swayed already. The radicals in Marawi have consistently citing frustration in the peace talks as one of the reason why they fought the government,” he added.

Iqbal said its hard for them to keep on tract on those individuals who joined the ISIS.

Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels are seen on board a vehicle Monday, Nov. 27, 2017 during their assembly in Sultan Kudarat town in Maguindanao. President Rodrigo Roa Duterte promsid the rebel group to ask lawmakers to have a special session to discuss and pass a law that will give them full autonomy in Mindanao.

Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels are seen on board a vehicle Monday, Nov. 27, 2017 during their assembly in Sultan Kudarat town in Maguindanao. President Rodrigo Roa Duterte promsid the rebel group to ask lawmakers to have a special session to discuss and pass a law that will give them full autonomy in Mindanao.

Iqbal said the passage of Bangsamoro Basic Law will resolve the decades old rebellion problem in Mindanao.

“We are not saying we will not go back to arm struggle if the passage of the BBL fails. What we say the option right now is to pass the BBL,” he said.

Earlier Wahid Tundok, MILF’s 118th Base Commander, said he foresee another siege bigger than Marawi where more a thousand people died and displaced over half million people if the passage of a law in congress that will give them autonomy fails.

The BBL, an offshoot of the peace deal between government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, was touted as a centerpiece legislation of the administration of then President Benigno Aquino III. It will  create a Muslim autonomous in Mindanao however several congressmen are reluctant to pass the draft law and have deleted crucial provisions.

However, several congressmen are reluctant to pass the draft law and have deleted crucial provisions.

In 2008, MILF rebels went into rampage and attacked civilian communities when the government did not sign the memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain when the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order.

The MILF has been fighting government troops for decades in a bid to establish a self-rule Muslim state in the south of the predominantly Catholic country.

The military said the aide of slain terror leader Omarkhayam Maute, one of the leaders behind the Maute Terrorist Group, has reportedly been recruiting residents, especially young men, in Lanao del Sur province.

Col. Romeo Brawner Jr., deputy commander of the military’s Joint Task Force Ranao, confirmed the report, citing the Maute were trying also to regroup after a five-month siege in Marawi City where all their leaders  were killed by government security forces.

Citing fresh information from local residents and officials, Brawner said identified Abu Dar, one of the Maute group’s leader who escaped the war and was now trying to reorganize the Islamic State (IS)-inspired group.

“The [reported] recruitment efforts for training of new fighters of IS-Maute terrorist group were monitored in the towns of Piagapo, Lumbacaunayan and Sultan Domalondong,” said Brawner.

Haroun Al-Rashid Lucman, vice governor of Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said at least 40 men were working along with Abu Dar in their recruitment program.

“The military should check on the reported recruitment activities and not let the terrorists regroup,” said Marawi Mayor Majul Gandamra.

On October 16, Isnilon Hapilon, the purported emir of ISIS in Southeast Asia and Omarkhayam Maute, one of the leaders behind the Maute Terrorist Group, were killed by the military. Seven more Maute brothers, Abu Sayyaf militants as well the foreigners in the frontline, were also killed.

The clashes flared up in Marawi when soldiers and policemen moved to arrest Hapilon. However, they were met by a big force of gunmen composed of militants from the Maute group, backed by an undetermined number of foreign fighters.

Around 920 militants, 165 government troops and 47 civilians have been killed in the siege. (End)

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