(Continued from Friday)
BECAUSE the Moro groups linked to the Iraq and Syria-based Islamic State (IS) pose a very serious danger to our Republic, I quoted at length in my column last Friday a study on this topic—probably the only such in-depth research on it—by the International Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC) dated October 2016, entitled “Pro-ISIS Groups in Mindanao and their Links to Indonesia and Malaysia”.
The Maute Group based in Lanao del Sur has the smartest, best-educated and most sophisticated members of all of the pro-ISIS groups in the Philippines.
Links to Marwan
Butig, Lanao del Sur, where the Maute group now operates, has been home for years to a large Moro Islamic Liberation camp, Camp Bushra. It was also not that far from the old JI training center in Jabal Quba, so there is a long history of armed activity in the area.
In addition to their international connections and high level of education, the Mautes’ leadership may be derived from their family connections. They are related by marriage to one of the most respected families in the MILF – the Mimbantas clan of Lanao del Sur. (Omar and Abdullah Maute are cousins of the second wife of the late Alim Mimbantaas, who had been the MILF’s vice chairman for internal affairs and said to be the most trusted associate of MILF founder Salamat Hashim.)
Strength of the Mautes
The Mautes have shown an ability to absorb what would seem to be major losses in clashes with the police and military, suggesting that their organization is larger and better organized than perhaps they have been given credit for.