INTELLIGENCE authorities on Thursday said they foresee a new wave of potential instability in the restive Mindanao region where government troops have been fighting extremist groups for decades.
This surfaced as intelligence operatives received information from sources in Mindanao that over 100 fighters belonging to the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) have recently completed their training in bomb making in Central Mindanao.
The BIFF, along with the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), is among the local extremist groups in Mindanao that have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) that have taken swaths of territories in the Middle East.
The intelligence report said that BIFF recruits trained in bomb making for about 45 days in Liguasan marsh near Tacurong City in South Cotabato.
“The school for bomb making was headed by Salahudin Hassan and Mauwiya, and the recruits are now ready for their test mission,” the intelligence operative added.
Another source from the intelligence community said that Hassan is a former member of the Pentagon Group headed by Tahir Alonto and later joined the Al-Khobar Extortion gang.
“Hassan has been involved in several bombing incidents in Central Mindanao, notably the August 2013 bombing in Cagayan de Oro City that was attributed to the Khilafa Islamiya Movement (KIM),” said the source.
It added that Hassan is also involved in the planning and bombing of power transmission lines of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) in Mindanao.
The same source said that Mauwiya is a Singaporean national and member of the Jemaah Islamiah (JI), a regional terror group based in Indonesia with the goal of establishing a pan Islamic State in Southeast Asia.
Mauwiya has been reportedly hiding in Mindanao for several years since his arrival in the country in 2003, almost simultaneously with Indonesian terror suspect Omar Patek and Malasian Dulmatin.
The source added that Mauwiya is also a known associate of Zulkipli Bin Hir alias ‘Marwan’ who was killed last year when elite troops of the PNP Special Action Force (SAF) launched “Oplan Exodus” in Mamasapano, Maguindanao. The infamous raid resulted in the death of 44 SAF troopers in January last year.
Intelligence officials said they are not discounting the possibility that these newly-trained recruits could launch more terror attacks even in Luzon with the help of the Rajah Solaiman Movement (RSM).
The RSM is a group of former Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) who converted to Islam. It was founded by Hilarion del Rosario who used to be an OFW from Saudi Arabia.
Among the deadly attacks carried out by the RSM along with the ASG was the bombing of Superferry 14 on February 27, 2004 in which more than a hundred were killed and scores of others injured.