MANILA, Philippines - Sunni Islamic preachers are recruiting field commanders of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a top rebel leader said yesterday.
Absalum Cerveza, head of the MNLF peace panel, told The STAR in a telephone interview that Islamic preachers have been trying to convince the MNLF to support the extremist belief espoused by the ISIS.
“We have been talking with ISIS preachers, but the MNLF is not supporting their own brand of Islamic belief,” he said.
“The MNLF leadership is firm with its commitment to renounce violence in attaining its political objective, which is the independence of Mindanao,” he added.
Cerveza explained that joining ISIS would isolate the MNLF from the international community, which is waging a war against ISIS fighters in the Middle East.
The MNLF has a permanent observer status in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and has close ties with the United Nations.
Emmanuel Fontanilla, MNLF spokesman, earlier said that foreign ISIS preachers began arriving in Mindanao last August to seek an alliance with Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and other extremist groups to expand their caliphate in the island.
“The Islamic preachers want to put Mindanao and Sulu in the ISIS world map,” he added.
ISIS preachers split into several groups in their recruitment activities and once they get the support of certain groups, they will pose with their armed allies pledging support to the ISIS flag, he warned.