• Probe on terrorists’ presence under way in South

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    COTABATO CITY: Representatives of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the government and the International Monitoring Team (IMT) have launched verification on reported presence of foreign terrorists-linked militants in Central Mindanao.

    Officials said the search initially focused on Camp Ka-raraw, a suspected training hub of militants linked to the Jeemah Islamiah (JI) terrorist group, lying on the border of Barira, Maguindanao; Butig, Lanao del Sur; and Alamada, North Cotabato.

    Governors Esmael Mangudadatu of Maguindanao, Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza of North Cotabato and Mamintal Alonto-Adiong Jr. of Lanao del Sur have reportedly issued statements expressing cooperation in efforts to rid their provinces of terrorist elements.

    The on-site verification involves 120 representatives from the MILF, the government and IMT, a multi-national body overseeing the peace process, military authorities said.

    Alleged trainees at Camp Kararaw, numbering around 50 with ages from 16 to 23 and belonging to a group they called Ghurabah, are reportedly fighting for total Islamic governance under the principle of Khilafah, and opposed to the MILF-GPH negotiations for democratic autonomy.

    According to Muslim clerics, Khilafah is an ideology practiced during the governance of the four caliphs of early Islam, during which full-blown Shariah Law was in force.

    Khilafah militants believe that “everyone working for [democratic or monarchic]government is non-believer [of Islam]. . . even if they are imams, teachers or leaders,” an Arab scholar said in an emailed message to a Muslim Filipino journalist.

    The crises in Egypt and Syria were partly triggered by militants espousing Khilafah ideology who have penchant in killing people opposed to their cause, the source said.

    A freshman student from Lanao del Sur, who claimed to have undergone one training session at Camp Kararaw, told The Manila Times that Ghuraba militants had boasted about staging some of the recent attacks in Marawi City and nearby areas.

    One of the group-admitted attacks was the killing in Cagayan de Oro City last February of an American citizen named Michael Alan Turner, a pioneering search engine optimization (SEO) service provider based in the Philippines, the source said.

    He said the Marawi City attacks included the ambush-slay of two soldiers in Army patrol vehicle at the Mindanao State University campus on August 9, 2012; the earlier killing of two soldiers visiting at a local Land Transportations Office; and the recent killing and torching of a professor and his assistant at an Internet café in the same school campus.

    Ghuraba militants were also behind the killing late last year of a soldier guarding the house in Marawi City of Coco Rasuman, organizer of a busted local pyramid scam in Lanao areas, said the source, who asked not to be named for obvious reason.

    An Islamic scholar operating a madrasah in Lanao del Sur had confirmed the emergence of a group of young Khilafah advocates voicing out their “extreme” principles inside mosques even in the presence of political leaders they bluntly accused as kafir (disbelievers).

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