Kato’s group reveals plot to kill Cotabato vice mayor PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 29 March 2012 15:06

The Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement (BIFM) issued a fatwah (edict) putting a commander under protective custody after revealing that he was hired by group to ambush Cotabato City Vice-Mayor Muslimin Sema.

BIFM commander Sammy Simpal told reporters of ABS-CBN in Cotabato City and loal radio station dxMY that he declined an offer of P1 million in cash, dozen assault rifles and assorted pistols when he learned that his mission was to kill Sema.

Sema is chairman of one of the most dominant factions in the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

Key sources from the BIFM told reporters today Simpal refused to agree to what they described as a “satanic mission,” being contrary to the spiritual ideals of their group.

Simpal, according to the sources, was also apprehensive that any attempt to neutralize Sema can spark hostility between them and the MNLF, which is tactically larger, having more members scattered across Southern Mindanao.           

Imam Abu Misry Mama, a ranking aide of BIFM chieftain Ameril Ombra Kato, announced yesterday over Catholic station dxMS that Simpal is now confined at their camp, awaiting interrogation by their Sharia experts to get to the bottom of his testimonies.

Mama explained that the BIFM has a standing, very strict religious policy restraining members to work as “mercenaries” for certain people or political organizations.

“He (Simpal) has not been charged of anything. He will just have to undergo questioning by our Sharia experts,” Simpal pointed out in Filipino, but in heavy Maguindanaon tone.

Mama said there were talks that circulated in their ranks that a group indeed attempted to hire Simpal and his men to neutralize Sema, who survived a near-fatal ambush last January 10 near his house in Cotabato City.

Sema’s bodyguards engaged the motorcycle-riding ambushers, killing one of them, identified as Zermin Abdullah, a career service employee of the Office on Southern Cultural Communities in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Mama, speaking on behalf of Kato, their Saudi-trained cleric-figurehead, told radio dxMS that they will not allow any of their commanders to get involved in any plot to kill Sema.

BIFM sources said it was Kato that approved the order, written in Arabic, placing Simpal under the custody, meantime, of their central leadership core for an indefinite period.

Simpal’s confession before journalists spawned tension in Cotabato City.

The situation was compounded by circulating text messages since Sunday night purporting that the improvised explosive device that went off Sunday afternoon on board a pumpboat carrying a wanted member of the Ampatuan family, Datu Ipih, and his alleged rebel coddlers, in Maguindanao was actually to be planted at a spot frequented by Sema.

The IED reportedly exploded prematurely while in transit, killing the operator of the ill-fated pumboat and causing serious injuries to Datu Ipih, long wanted in connection with November 23, 2009 massacre of 58 people in Ampatuan municipality in Maguindanao.

The provincial police director of Maguindanao, Senior Superintendent Marcelo Pintac, said one of those injured in the blast was Commander Dagadas Upam of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Senior Army and police intelligence officers in Mindanao said Upam is related by blood to Datu Ipih, whose patriarch, Anwar, was former mayor of Maguindanao’s Shariff Aguak town and is now  also detained for his alleged involvement in the slaughter of 58 people in 2009 in the province, in what could be the worst-ever election-related violence in the country.

Reports reaching the general headquarters of the Armed Forces in Camp Aguinaldo  and the national office of the Philippine National Police in Camp Crame stated that the injured Datu is now confined a Catholic hospital in Cotabato City, guarded by policemen and members of the Philippine Marine Corps.