Moro Islamic Liberation Front

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    Pi_milf.jpeg

    The flag of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.[1]

    Status: ACTIVE
    AKA: MILF, Special Operations Group
    Formed: 1977
    Areas of Operation: Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia
    Ideology: Nationalist (Moro), Religious (Sunni), Separatist
    Group: 15,000
    Leader: Ibrahim al Haj Murad
    Affiliates: Abu Sayyaf, Al Qaeda, Cordillera Peoples Democratic Front, Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), GIA, Jemaah Islamiya (JI), Kumpulan Mujahideen Malaysia, Lashkar Jundullah, Moro National Liberation Front (MNFL), National Democratic Front, Pentagon Kidnap for Ransom Group, Ulama-Professional Executive Committee, United Youth of the Philippines
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    Organizational History

    Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) leader Salamat Hashim has stated in past speeches that the ultimate objective of the group is to make the word of Allah supreme. To this end, the MILF adopted a 20-year, four-point program to slowly liberate and restore Mindanao and surrounding islands to an Islamic state in the southern Philippines. The points of this program include (1) Islamization; (2) organizational strengthening; (3) military buildup; and (4) financial autonomy. MILF’s ultimate strategic aim (in furtherance of establishing an Islamic state) is a 50-year, seven-point program which includes, among other things: the preservation of the patrimony of the Moros in Mindanao and the defense of their freedom from oppression.

    On December 26, 1977, Salamat Hashim began a bid to take over control of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), a guerilla group that had been fighting for the independence of the southern Philippines for many years. Many within the movement were unhappy with the direction it was taking. Among other critiques of the organization, Hashim, who received his religious education in Egypt, believed that the MNLF had adopted a Marxist-Maoist orientation, contrary to the Islamist orientation of Hashim. For many years, the MNLF operated as two groups with the same name. In 1984, Hashim declared himself the leader of a new organization known as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). MILF is currently the largest, organized armed group in the Philippines vying for the creation of a separate Islamic state.[2]

    In August 2008, the Philippine government was set to sign an agreement granting the Bangsomoro people autonomy, although the final signing of the petition was blocked with the Supreme Court of the Philippines declaring that it was in opposition to the country’s Constitution16. Incidents swiftly increased as renegade MILF insurgents began attacking government installations and villages in retaliation for the decision. Other peace negotiations have been approached, but never finally accepted as MILF rebels contend that the government has neglected to offer any concessions to end hostilities in the region.

    Structure

    The MILF is primarily organized along hierarchical, paramilitary lines with some cellular components located in urban areas. It has both a political and military unit, broken into the Central and Executive Committees and the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF). The organization also supports a group of spiritual representatives, call shura, as well as various legitimate connections with supporters, students, Muslim scholars, and other professionals16.

    Arsenal

    The MILF reportedly received a shipment of 600 Soviet-made RPGs in 1995 in Llana Bay, Cotabato City and sent the arms to Camp Abubakar. They have received arms and other weapons from sub-state groups from around Southeast Asia, South Asia, and some areas of the Middle East. Iran is even believed to have provided weapons to the MILF. The group has also been known to produce its own weaponry including RPGs and mortar rounds.

    Funding

    Funding comes from a number of sources, including taxes of foreign companies, Zakat (charitable donations) given to MILF communities, and overseas contributions from wealthy Moros. The International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO), led by Usama bin Laden’s brother-in-law, Muhammed Jamal Khalifa, was used as a financial channel for the MILF in order to procure arms and other equipment. In addition to the IIRO, al Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiya have also donated funds to the Filipino terror group. Other charities linked to the MILF include MERC International (a Saudi charity also established by Khalifa), the Islamic Wisdom Worldwide Mission (IWWM), and the Daw’l Immam al Shafee Center. Some MILF members own or manage businesses and funnel money back into the organization. Additional sources of MILF financing include kidnappings, drug trafficking, extortion, and contributions from supporters overseas.

    Recruitment

    Many of the former and current MILF fighters were originally involved in the Afghan-Soviet War in the 1980’s. MILF has training operations for its members at camps in Mindanao, but has also sent recruits to camps in Pakistan and Libya16. Guerrillas in the southern Philippines have provided camps for terror training for militant groups from Indonesia and Malaysia for at least the last decade.

    Tactics

    MILF rebels engage in both terrorism and crime-related activities. Militants have carried out high-profile kidnapping campaigns in order to bring attention to their mission, as well as to increase funding. They have become well-known for targeting wealthy citizens and businessmen in the Philippines because of the high payout rate for release. In addition to kidnapping, MILF members regularly bomb and ambush security forces, as well as civilians, typically in response to suspected government offensives and violations of the groups’ ceasefire agreement.

    Gallery

    MILF.1.jpg

    MILF militants pose with their weapons.[3]

    hashim_salamat.jpg

    Founder and former leader of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Salamat Hashim.[4]

    leader.jpg

    The current leader, Ibrahim al Haj Murad, is escorted by soldiers during a series of peace talks held in Malaysia.[5]

    pray.jpg

    Members of the MILF pray at the end of the holy month of Ramadhan in Maguindanao in the southern Philippines.[6]

    muradwith troops.jpg

    Leader  Ibrahim al Haj Murad stands with his MILF troops at Buliok Complex , the rebel base, in Central Mindanao, Philippines.[7]

    troops.jpg

    Filipino troops fire a canon at a MILF stronghold in Aleosan in the southern Philippines on August 11, 2008.[8]

    References

    1. Olle, J. (2001). File:Pi milf.gif. Wikipedia. Retrieved from [1] on December 13, 2011.
    2. Institute for the Study of Violent Groups. (n.d.). Moro Islamic Liberation Front. ISVG Wiki. Retrieved from [2]
    3. Diaz, P. (2011, April 18). The price of peace in Mindanao. Global Balita. Retrieved from [3] on December 13, 2011.
    4. MindanaoBob. (2008, September 11). The Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Live in the Philippines. Retrieved from [4] on December 13, 2011.
    5. Bacongco, K. Eid'l Fitr at the Muslim rebel camp. DEMOTIX. Retrieved from [5] on December 13, 2011.
    6. Balanza, R. (2008, July 3). Durian Post. Retrieved from [6] on December 13, 2011.
    7. Today's Pics,Monday, August 11th, 2008. (2008, August 11). MilitaryPhotos.net. Retrieved from [7] on December 13, 2011.
     

     

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