Authorities assure no ISIS, recruitment activities in ARMM PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 02 October 2014 11:46

Officials on Tuesday refuted insinuations there could be on-going recruitment in Maguindanao of prospective Moro jihadists by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), now a declared enemy of allied nations led by the United States of America.

Senior members of the provincial peace and order council, among them Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu, Brig. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan of the 6th Infantry Division, and Senior Supt. Rudelio Jocson announced during Tuesday’s PPOC meeting in Buluan town that the local Islamic communities remain in control and that there are no indication of any ISIS recruitment activities in any of Maguindanao’s 36 towns.

Jocson, who is Maguindanao’s provincial police director, said they are, in fact, more concerned with the amicable settlement of clan wars involving big Maguindanaon families in support of the efforts of the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to restore normalcy in areas devastated by conflicts in years past.

Participants to the PPOC told reporters they have faith in the government’s July 1997 ceasefire accord with the MILF, which binds both sides to cooperate in the interdiction of terrorists in flashpoint areas in Mindanao.

“All of our Islamic preachers in the province are moderate Sunni Muslims so there is no way extremists can influence ethnic Maguindanaon folks to even just sympathize with the ISIS,” Mangudadatu told reporters in an informal press briefing after the three-hour PPOC meeting.

Military officials present in the meeting said last month’s announcement by the brigand Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) that it has fused ranks with the ISIS was a propaganda ploy possibly meant to gain media mileage to boost its solitary bid for a puritan Islamic state in Southern Philippines.

In a Powerpoint presentation, the 6th ID stated that only some 400 of about 1,800 BIFF members and supporters are armed.

Pangilinan and Mangudadatu will convene anytime this month the leaders of the Islamic communities involved in dawah (preaching) activities in the province, and the Imams managing mosques to enlist their support in maintaining law and order in the local communities.

Some members of the newly-organized Jurisconsult of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, among them graduates of the Al-Azhar University in Egypt and the World Islamic Call University in Libya, have earlier branded as un-Islamic the activities of the ISIS, which brutally took over non-Muslim enclaves in parts of Syria and Iraq in recent months.

“Nowhere in the sacred Qur’an can you find a teaching encouraging Muslims to kill non-Muslims just like that. Warfare in Islam, in fact, is only strictly for defense of land, race and religion, not in form of aggression. Killing of innocent non-Muslim religious leaders and their followers and destroying their places of worship is forbidden in Islam,” said Alzad Sattar, who is ARMM’s undersecretary for Islamic education.

Sattar, also an Islamic theologian, said extremism is one of the concerns being addressed by the ARMM’s education department through religious classes handled by competent, devout Islamic missionaries assigned in the provinces.

The police and military are still investigating on the alleged pledging of allegiance by ethnic Maranaws to the ISIS during a congregational prayer in a Mosque in the far away Marawi City two weeks ago. The worshipers were also said to have raised the ISIS black flag during the event.

Marawi City is inside Lanao del Sur province, where there are originally Sunni Maranaw Muslims that reportedly embraced Shia religious practices after having been employed as overseas workers in the Middle East.

ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman said the incident was isolated and did not mean that the ISIS may already have infiltrated the religious sectors in Lanao del Sur, a component province of ARMM.

“I’m in touch with the police and military’s intelligence communities and I’m so sure there is no ISIS in the ARMM. There are only local fanatical criminal gangs that are good at creating scenarios to earn media hype,” Hataman pointed out.