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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Filipino ISIS supporters gather anew in Marawi

by Ali G. Macabalang
Publish in Manila Bulletin

Cotabato City – Some 100 supporters of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) openly gathered anew in Marawi City and pledged loyalty to the ISIS ideology, which moderate Islam and Christian leaders tag as a “religious extremism.”
The group declared their presence during a congregational prayer in one of Marawi City’s grand mosques Friday last week, Sept. 19, a belated report reaching the Manila Bulletin said. The local fanatics, led by Jamil Yahya, pledged their allegiance or bai’ah to the khilaffah governance of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed caliph of the ISIS.
Last Friday’s gathering of local khilaffah fanatics was their second open convergence in Marawi City. The first gathering was last July when dozens of them, bearing their signature black flags and banners, joined an indignation rally against the Israelis aggression on Palestinians.
Lanao del Sur Governor Mamintal “Bombit” Alonto-Adiong Jr. confirmed the latest meeting of the ISIS supporters.  The governor was on official function in Metro Manila at the time of the gathering. He said his staff and some concerned residents sent him photos of the gathering.
“Some of those people (khillaffah ideologues) started surfacing openly. I just arrived from Manila and we will look into it,” Gov. Adiong told the Manila Bulletin by phone on Tuesday.
The governor said he will consult moderate Muslim clerics for a possible formation of a group that can deal with the local fanatics in “peaceful and persuasive” negotiations.
He said local law enforcement authorities could not take punitive action against the fanatic group because the members did not have weapons or firearms and the meeting was peaceful.
“We can think of initial peaceful and persuasive efforts to deal with the ideologues… We certainly cannot allow religious extremism to escalate into armed movement,” Gov. Adiong said.
The governor is a grandson of the late former Senator Domocao Alonto Sr., a renowned moderate Islam advocate who was involved in the creation of the Malaysia-Philippines-Indonesia (MAPHILINDO) alliance and the Rabitatul Alam (World Muslim League) in the early 1960s.
Local military and police establishments have also confirmed the emerging khilaffah ideology in some parts of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), saying they were keenly observing the situation and would prevent the fanatic ideologues from resorting to armed movement.
Khilaffah is an Arabic term for caliphate, a kind of Islamic ideology and governance exemplified by four caliphs anointed by Prophet Mohammad to succeed him in the advancement of Islam.
Caliphs Abubakar, Omar, Ali, and Usman enjoyed Divine anointment through the prophet. There can be no other caliph after them because there is no more Prophet alive to endow Divine anointment, according to local Islamic theology experts.
Local Muslim clerics believe that the emergence of the so-called “extremists” or “jihadists” stemmed from extreme emotion against perceived modern persecutions against Muslim nations or communities.
Some Muslim theologians claimed that the United States-backed operations against Iraq and Syria and the continued offensives of Israelis in Palestine have fueled the emergence of the khilaffah movement.
According to media reports attributed to former President Fidel Ramos and Davao City Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, some 100 Filipino youngsters volunteered and went out of the country to fight with the forces of ISIS.
The reports said those youngsters were “recruited” but verifications showed that they volunteered and left the Mindanao through the “southern backdoor” on their way to Iraq and Syria.
In a forum in Berlin last week, President Aquino said that there has been no evidence that Filipinos have been recruited by the ISIS.  He said that his administration would ensure that Filipinos are benefitting from the country’s economic gains in order to prevent them from being “disenchanted or disillusioned.”
But local Muslim and Church sources argued that materialistic remedies cannot resolve an ideology issue, suggesting that respected moderate theologians should immerse with people known for extremist ideas or tendencies.

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