KIDAPAWAN CITY: The military on Mon-day launched an investigation on the group of Muslim Filipinos who reportedly pledged allegiance or bai’ah to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), now called Islamic State (IS), on September 19 in Marawi City.
Marawi City-based 103rd brigade commanding officer Col. Glenn Macasero told The Manila Times in a phone interview that the military began the investigation after seeing photos of the oath-taking in Facebook.
The photos which were uploaded by a certain Abu showed blurred faces of the participants with children and masked men holding black flags similar to the ISIS inside a mosque.
The uploader captioned the album as “ilang taga Lanao nag allegiance sa IS [ISIS] sa isang Masjid sa Marawi kanina after Friday prayer [Some people of Lanao recently pledged allegiance to IS or ISIS inside a mosque in Marawi City after Friday congregational prayer].”
Macasero said the photos could be also a “propaganda” of a certain group behind the oath-taking after the military noticed that some Muslims in the photos were simply performing prayers.
The Manila Times on Friday received reports from local residents that around 100 “unarmed” militants joined the “surprise” mass oath-taking inside the Masjid Islamic Center in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur, a component area of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
The residents said Muslim cleric Jamil “Motawwa” Yahya, a former member of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and colleague of Saudi-cleric late MILF chairman Hashim Salamat, had organized the surprise mass oath-taking, vowing the same faith of the armed jihadist groups to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
The residents, who asked not to be identified for security reasons, believed that some participants were possibly “ignorant” about the background of the ISIS.
Yahya, an ethnic Maranao from Bayang town of Lanao del Sur, was also affiliated with the BangsaMoro Labor Organization (BMLO), which is remain active overseas particularly in the United Arab Emirates and the entire Middle East region, the residents said.
Another source from the police intelligence community said members of the Khilafah Islamiyah Movement (KIM), also known as the Khilafah Islamiyah Mindanao-Black Flag Movement, was behind the Friday’s gathering.
The police officer said they had confirmed involvement of the KIM, headed by Afghan-cleric Humam Abdul Najid, who have ties with Southeast Asian terror organization Jema’ah Islamiyah.
The mubai’ah or pledging loyalty to the IS’s caliph al-Baghdad is a trend among radical jihadists groups in the country.