14 April 2016
Musa Muhammad stands at the site where 400 Islamist militants launched an invasion of the southern Philippine city of Zamboanga little over two years ago, sparking 20 days of heavy fighting with security forces. The ruins of his old house can be found there, amid several hundred other razed homes. Since then his family has lived in a sports stadium, refusing to move to a newly built house in another part of town.
“This has been our home for 50 years,” he says. “We’re afraid, but we’ll never leave.”
The Moros (“Moors”), as the Muslims of the southern Philippine region of Mindanao are called, are known for their intransigence. For centuries, they fought the Spanish, Americans and Japanese for their independence. Today, they are fighting Manila too. Some 120,000 people have died, and millions have been displaced, in the past 40 years of insurgency. (Muddying the picture, a separate communist insurgency is also sporadically waged in parts of Mindanao by the New People’s Army, which is thought to consist of some 3,200 fighters.)
… “It’s very likely that [Abu Sayyaf] will declare a satellite of the caliphate in the coming year,” says Rohan Gunaratna, an international terrorism expert at S. Rajaratnam School of Security Studies in Singapore. “Once that is done, it will be much more difficult to dismantle these groups.”
GPO / ICPVTR / Online
Last updated on 15/04/2016