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Sunday, 06 March 2016 14:31

BEHIND  THE  LINES

BY BOB JALDON

Los Angeles, CA. — Before anything else, here’s an update of our power situation. Due to reduced output from Mapalad Power Plant, Therma Marine and Western Mindanao Power Corp. because of preventive maintenance work on their diesel engines, there will be one-to-two hours of rotating blackouts daily.

Psalm, or the National Power Corporation, has drastically reduced its output from a high 40 megawatts to a very low 12-15 MW because of lack of water input from Lake Lanao and Pulangi river.

On good days, there won’t be power outages depending on the principle of supply and demand. Also, the maintenance work will prepare the engines for extensive operation for the May 9 elections and the El Niño weather phenomenon.

Engineer Ben Conti, a consultant for Alsons Power Group, says that it’s better to have a partial shutdown of these power plants now than face total disaster in critical times.

In an unrelated development, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), in collaboration with the embassy of Saudi Arabia, should be the lead agency to investigate the frustrated assassination of acclaimed Muslim preacher Sheikh Dr. Aaidhibn Abdullah al-Qarni and his companion-diplomat Sheikh Turki Assaegh. The gunman was reportedly shot and killed by the Sheikhs’ escorts, while two others allegedly involved in the attack were arrested. The two Sheikhs were shot as they were leaving the gymnasium of the Western Mindanao State University (WMSU) last Tuesday night.

Was it a burn notice? Dr. Qarni is said to be on the hit list of the Islamic State  or ISIS. The triggerman, an engineering student, was named as Rugasan Misuari III. The two arrested Misuari confederates may be members of the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group, the police said.

The Agence France Press (AFP) reported that Dr. Qarni was born on Jan. 1, 1959. He is said to be an Islam scholar, author and activist and is best known for his self-help book “La Tahzan” (Don’t be sad) which is directed at Muslims and non-Muslims as well.

It was also reported that ISIS has called on “lone wolves” to attack Dr. Qarni and several other clerics whom they accuse of “apostasy.” An international security analyst told Manila reporters that the government should investigate the incident thoroughly to determine whether the attack was influenced by ISIS. This is why this case needs the involvement of the NBI because it has everything to do with national security.

Saudi media, meanwhile, described Dr. Qarni as a senior Islamic scholar who has more than 12 million followers on Twitter. In his book, “Awakening Islam”, the French academician Stephane Lacroix included Dr. Qarni in his list of the most famous Saudi preachers.

If indeed the attack was inspired by ISIS, then this ruthless terrorist organization that is taking Iraq and Syria by storm has taken roots in the Philippines, particularly Zamboanga city. The military and police should be on the same page here. This ain’t no joke, damas y caballeros of the city government looking after Zamboanga’s welfare.

Last January, some military intel officials said that some ranking members of ISIS are in Mindanao recruiting young jihadists to join their movement. Last year, I wrote about the danger of ISIS infiltrating Muslim-dominated areas in Mindanao.

Did not the Abu Sayyaf pledge allegiance to ISIS last January? This is precisely why the police and military are in full metal jacket against the Abu Sayyaf in Basilan and Sulu. The last thing we need is an ISIS-backed Abu Sayyaf that has slaughtered innocent civilians, including priests, and missionaries in the past. While we had only the bolo-wielding “juramentado” to deal with in the ’50s, now we will have to be vigilant against suicide bombers and suicide commandos.

This is the horrifying implication on the attack on Dr. Qarni.