SHARIFF AGUAK, Maguindanao: Four members of the third faction of Islamic State-inspired Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) were reportedly executed for being “traitors” to their group and suspected of passing information to the military.
Lt. Col. Gerry Besana, spokesman of the Army-led anti-terrorist Task Force Central, confirmed on Thursday having received reports from barangay (village) residents about the execution of the followers of Esmael
Abdulmalik on suspicion that they provided the military and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) information on their exact location that led to the MILF’s takeover of their camp on Wednesday.
“There are very persistent reports coming in from barangay officials and local executives in Maguindanao about that,” Besana said.
Abdulmalik is the leader of a third faction in the outlawed BIFF and uses the black flag of the Islamic State (IS) as their revolutionary banner.
Members of the municipal peace and order councils in several Maguindanao towns said Abdulmalik’s four followers – identified only as Hamodi, Omar, Rasul and Asraf – were shot dead one after the other after learning that they sent text messages to contacts divulging their locations at Barangay Tee in Datu Salibo town.
“The names of those contacts in their mobile phones were not typical Maguindanaon or Muslim names,” a local official said who confirmed the brutal killings of the four bandits.
They were reportedly executed after the fall of their remaining bastion in Barangay Tee following eight hours of a running gun battle with pursuing members of the MILF’s Task Force Ittihad.
The MILF overrun the last enclave of Abdulmalik’s group in Barangay Tee after a series of clashes in the area and in nearby villages in Datu Piang and Sharif Saidona towns in Maguindanao.
Senior Supt. Agustin Tello, provincial police director, said he also received reports regarding the execution of Abdulmalik’s followers from different sources, among them senior members of prominent Maguindanaon clans.
Six followers of Abdulmalik were killed in gunfights with the MILF on Wednesday in Barangay Tee, one of them identified as Ansari Alimama, a Maranao from Butig, Lanao del Sur.
Tello said Alimama was a senior member of the Maute terror group.
He also disclosed that Alimama was a henchman of siblings Omar and Abdullah Maute, founder of the IS-inspired Maute group that first emerged in Butig in 2014.
“We have validated from our contacts in Lanao del Sur that this Alimama hailed from Butig,” Tello said.
Meanwhile, Besana said military units in Maguindanao’s adjoining Salibo, Datu Piang and Sharif Saidona towns have fired artillery at the militants fleeing from Barangay Tee.
The MILF launched an offensive against Abdulmalik’s group in August after its failed attempts to hoist the IS flag in guerilla enclaves in Maguindanao that are recognized as “peace zones” by the government.