So, we are told, there’s three groups to consider: the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), and the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG). Three different acronyms, yes. But are they really three different groups of people? We seem to have fixated on the acronyms but not really thought through and understood what differentiates these three terrorist bands.
Could it be that the so-called “experts” on Mindanao and its terrorist infestation know too much detail for the national good? Sometimes it is better to approach the issue with a child-like mind, see. Outsiders looking into this nightmarish national crisis, only see a bunch of bad men who happen to be Islamic in creed running around Mindanao carrying guns and shooting at people.
And so there really is only one common denominator across the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the BIFF, and the ASG:
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Indeed, the Philippine Army which is now under orders to wage an “all-out war” against the latter two have highlighted a fundamental fear along these lines…
The military fears Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) might mingle with Moro Islamic Liberation Front members to elude pursuing Philippine Army troopers in Central Mindanao.
Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines public affairs office, said one of the challenges in the all-out offensive against the BIFF was the possibility both rebel groups might reunite. The BIFF is a breakaway group of the [Moro Islamic Liberation Front] which is nearing a peace agreement with the government.
In short, the Philippines and its people, from a military perspective, have only one strategic enemy — bad armed men who kill people in an organised manner in the name of Islam.
But ask the “experts” and they will insist that there are really three different people of those sorts, one of which, namely the the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, is supposedly “friendly” with the Philippine government and therefore supposedly worth sparing in an “all-out war”. So we should then ask the next obvious question:
How exactly is the Moro Islamic Liberation Front different from the BIFF and the ASG?
When you are a soldier looking through the sights of your gun, it is highly unlikely you’d be too fussed about who is who. You just shoot someone coming at you with a gun — or a kris.
To the experts armed with their PhDs, however, the following definitions matter so much that they have all but fixated on these dubious political constructs:
Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG): Armed Islamic militants with strong ties to Indonesian terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah and al Qaeda from which it allegedly receives funding. Early members were recruits from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).
Moro Islamic Liberation Front: Breakaway group of armed Islamic militants from the (now-moderate) MNLF and allegedly has elements in its ranks trained by Jemaah Islamiya. They are blamed for various terrorist activites including the bombing of Davao Airport in 2003 and violating a ceasefire agreement fighting alongside the ASG resulting in 23 deaths in Maguindanao in 2005.
Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF): Armed Islamic militants that formed a breakway group from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front after the latter began negotiating with the Philippine government.
So can you actually see that “difference” the “experts” say exists between these three groups?
What seems to be more evident is that there are more similarities between the three than the imaginary “differences” our “experts” routinely use to muddle the national “debate”. If you look through the above stocktake, there really are only a handful of words and names that are common across the three. I’ve already mentioned two of them earlier. Suffice to say, the message is pretty clear. They are the same type of dog each with different shapes of spots.
Pity our armed forces then. As if nothing’s been learned following the savage massacre of 44 members of the Philippine police’s Special Action Force team, the Army is now being sent out to categorise the enemy before shooting them.
I don’t think so.
We will recall words of military wisdom used in many such conflicts in the past:
Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius.
“Kill them. For the Lord knows those that are His own.” More succinctly:
Kill ’em all and let God sort them out.
Politically incorrect? Perhaps. But put yourself in the enemy’s combat tsinelas for a minute and think of it again. You will likely find this command will makes a lot more sense from that perspective — as 44 dead SAF officers and thousands more of our boys before them who died fighting these terrorists now know. Any strategist worth their salt will tell you that an important part of winning a war is thinking like the enemy. Perhaps it’s time the real experts in this crisis lead the way and leave the opinions of a bunch of school girls out of it.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.