Government soldiers take part in a firefight with Muslim rebels from the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in Zamboanga city in southern Philippines. © Reuters
The story comes from The Clarion Project.
Islamic Separatists on a Rampage in the Philippines
As the world focuses on the conflict in Syria, the recent attacks by Muslim rebels in the southern Philippines goes largely unnoticed.
With much of the world’s attention focused on Syria, its chemical weapons (CW), and the various Islamic factions and their big power sponsors which are facing off against one another in that civil war, half the globe away, few have noticed that another country and its mostly Christian population also are facing the savagery of Muslim jihadis.
On 9 September 2013, hundreds of heavily armed fighters belonging to the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) attacked the largely Christian coastal city of Zamboanga City on the Filipino island of Mindanao, took hostages, and announced their intention to march on City Hall to declare an independent Islamic state.
MNLF leadership demanded that either the United Nations or the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC, the 57-member pro-sharia head of state organization of all Islamic countries plus the Palestinians) be brought in to negotiate with them.
Thousands of Philippine troops arrived to confront the rebels, sending some 13,000 local inhabitants fleeing from the fighting, even as two other allied groups of Muslim fighters attacked a second province on Basilan Island on 12 September. There, in Basilan Province, the combined forces of Abu Sayyaf (long an al Qaeda affiliate) and the more recently-formed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters attacked Filipino government forces, giving rise to concerns about a widening of the Islamic insurgent threat. All of these Islamic jihadist groups are committed to armed struggle to establish an Islamic state in the southern Philippines.
Despite sporadic peace talks between the Philippines’ jihadist groups and the government that have been on-again-off-again since at least the 1990s, this most recent fighting broke out on adjacent islands over the same separatist demands that have instigated earlier violence.
Although Islam first reached the Philippine islands peacefully in the 14th century with Muslim traders arriving from points further west, within a century, jihad launched from the various sultanates of Borneo had subjugated the southern Filipino island of Mindanao forcibly to Islam. While the rest of the Philippines was colonized by the Spaniards from the 16th century and became Christian, these southern islands remained Muslim; the Spanish called the inhabitants “Moros,” the Spanish word for “Moors,” referring to the Muslim conquerors who ruled the Iberian Peninsula for some eight centuries.
The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) is an Islamic rebel separatist group that formed in the Mindanao region in 1969. Its red battle flag features the crescent moon, star, and sword of Islam.
An observer member of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) since 1977, the MNLF has spawned a number of violent jihadist off-shoots, including the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the al-Qa’eda-linked Abu Sayyaf Group, and the MNLF Executive Council (or “15EC”).
Although MILF leadership denies affiliation with al Qaeda or that it supports Abu Sayyaf, according to Jane’s Intelligence Review, hundreds of MILF fighters trained in al-Qa’eda camps in Afghanistan during the 1980s. Likewise, arrested Jemaah Islamiyya fighters have admitted training in MILF camps, although its own base of operations is Indonesia.
According to reports, some 150,000 people have died over the course of a four-decade long Muslim insurgency in the southern Philippines.