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MILF commander blasts militants

MARAWI CITY – Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s feisty Commander Abdullah “Bravo” Macapaar has denounced the perpetrators of the bloody siege in this city, and called them “misguided’ for wrongfully pursuing jihad (holy war) at the expense of innocent civilians in this country’s central Islamic community.

Speaking in vernacular through a video-recorded footage on Thursday, Macapaar asked the leaders of combined Maute and Abu Sayyaf radical groups to pull out of this city while there is still “something left for displaced residents to start with for recovery.”

More than 200 people including militants, state troops and civilians were killed, over 180,000 residents displaced and several buildings burned or shuttered in this city since the hostilities began on May 23 with Islamic State-inspired guerillas occupying vital places here.

All such “regrettable” havocs happened as a result of the “wrong” interpretation and enforcement of jihad by militants and their leaders, Macapaar said.

“I appeal to you, our younger brethren, to leave our place (Marawi City) along with your follower,” he said.

Macapaar was referring to Lanao Sur-based brothers Abdullah and Omar Maute, and Alim Owaida, more popularly known as Isnilon Hapilon, the Abu Sayyaf leader and ISIS anointed “emir” for Southeast Asia.

“We cannot blame anyone for this (malady) but you, our younger counterparts,” Macapaar said.

In his 17-minute video footage, Macapaar admitted having been contacted before and after May 23 by the Marawi siege plotters for him and his followers to join forces with them.

“You (plotters) tried to get our support and even threatened to pull the triggers at us in the long run without hesitance if we refuse,” Macapaar said. “But we said, in reply, we are ready to fight in defense of righteousness, our position.”

He also made a pitch against some elected Muslim leaders for “giving wrong information” to the President and other authorities about his previous disciplinary actions against city residents involved in illegal drugs and other organized crimes.

The supposed “wrong” tip prompted President Duterte to almost order a military offensive against Macapaar’s group early this year.

Macapaar, who heads the MILF’s Western Mindanao Command covering the two Lanao provinces, has gained media mileage in his past combat operations that peaked in the bloody attacks of some towns in Lanao del Norte following the botched signing of the government-MILF’s Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (Moa-AD) in 2008. (ALI MACABALANG)

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