THE military sees a leadership struggle within the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) following the death on Tuesday of the group’s head, Ustadz Ameril Umbra Kato.
BIFF spokesman Abu Misry announced on Wednesday that Sheik Esmail/Ismael Abubakar alias Commander Bungos has been named as the new head of the bandit group.
But Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Public Affairs Office, said Kato’s relatives, particularly Commander Muhaiden Animbang alias Kagi Karialan, may not accept Bungos as BIFF leader.
Cabunoc explained that the BIFF membership is based on “clan lines.”
The official described Bungos as an “aggressive” leader.
But compared to Karialan, Cabunoc said Bungos is much “tamer.”
Karialan, he added, is respected by the BIFF for being a tactical and religious leader.
Cabunoc said the military is worried of Karialan because of his supposed allegiance to the ISIS.
If Kato’s relatives will reject Bungos as BIFF leader, Cabunoc said it is possible that the leadership tussle will break up the bandit group.
Kato reportedly died following a massive heart attack on Tuesday in Maguindanao province. The military said reports coming from the Army’s 6th Infantry Division claimed that Kato was buried on Wednesday.