EXCLUSIVE

Young boys recruited to be ISIS mercenaries

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FOREIGN-trained mercenaries of the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq (ISIS) took advantage of the pitiful plight of the residents of a Muslim community by recruiting teenagers to join the jihad (holy war) with the promise of financial support for them and their families.

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This was learned by The Manila Times from an 18-year-old recruit who said he has trained with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) for about six months now and wanted out complaining of starvation and rigid physical exercises.

“Jihadist ang tawag ng ISIS sa mga kapwa naming Muslim na may pananampalataya sa Islam at paniniwala sa Koran (the ISIS calls our fellow Muslim Jihadist who has faith in Islam and believers of the Quran),” said the recruit.

The young Jihadist is one of about 20 recruits – whose ages range from 16 to 18 –allegedly being trained by an MILF regional field commander based in Lanao del Norte he identified as “Commander Bravo”.

It was not known if the teener, named “Saydala”, was referring to the known MILF commander Abdulrahman Macapaar, alias Commander Bravo.

Saydala who is from Marawi City, disclosed to The Manila Times how the ISIS manipulated and managed to win the hearts of their supporters.

Saydala said they had no idea what ISIS is all about until their Jihad lectures and training activities started, conducted about 100 meters away from the undisclosed camp of the MILF in Lanao del Norte.

He also said that commander Bravo told them they will be given P20,000 each after completing the MILF-ISIS joint training.

Their families were also promised P30,000 a month once the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is approved by both houses of Congress.

The fund, they were allegedly told, will come from ISIS Islamic member-country.

Saydala added that Commander Bravo assured them of assignment with the Regional Special Forces (RSF) in the Autonomous Region In Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). They were told to report to Muhammad Jaafar Maguid, said to be the new leader of Ansar al-Khilafa (Supporters of the Caliphate) in the Philippines (AKP).

An earlier story carried by The Manila Times quoted a source from Joint Task Force GenSan (JTF-GenSan) saying that Maguid, alias “Tokboy” was tasked to continue the role of Abdul Basit Usman, the slain leader of ISIS terror cell creating wide scale violence in Central Mindanao.

Part of the plan was to secure external support and recruit other terror groups in Southern Philippines like Abu Sayyaf Group, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), Khalifah Islamiyah Mindanao, Moro Islamic Liberation Front-Special Operation Group (MILF-SOG) and other allied forces.

Support to AKP
Saydala’s claim was confirmed to The Manila Times by his uncle identified as commander Sakaruddin of the MILF.

Sakaruddin, a highly trained MILF commander who turned ISIS supporter, said the ISIS mercenaries have been offering large amount of money to their recruits on condition that they strongly support the AKP.

He said that most of the earlier ISIS recruits were Imam or high priests of the Islamic faith calling themselves the fundamentalists group which are now mobilizing in Lanao del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Marawi, Cotabato City, Carmen in North Cotabato, the owns of Palimbang and Kalamansig in Sultan Kudarat province.

Earlier this month, some 30 ASG members in Basilan have “officially” pledged allegiance to the caliph of the ISIS and named its new leaders aligned with the Islamic extremist group through a video released and uploaded in a website on January 4.

However, Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesman Colonel Restituto Padilla have repeatedly denied the existence of the group or any ISIS operations in the country.

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