MNLF, BIFF joining forces to push own Moro independence, says MILF


KIDAPAWAN CITY, North Cotabato, Philippines — The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the renegade Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) are forming a political alliance in their quest for Bangsamoro independence, according to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

In its website, the MILF claimed on Monday that that MNLF secretary general Ustadz Murshi Ebrahim has been quoted as saying: “It’s possible to have a political alliance with (the) BIFF. Our forces are former comrades and we knew each other even before.”

The MILF also quoted Abu Misry Mama, BIFF spokesperson, as saying “it’s a very good development, (an) alliance is very possible,” in response to Ebrahim’s statement.

The MILF said that during the 39th Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) meeting in Djibouti, Africa, on November 15 to 17, 2012, MNLF Chair Nur Misuari told Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Secretary General Prof. Ekemelddin Ihsanoglu and other OIC top officials and in the presence of MILF leaders including Chair Murad Ebrahim, that Omra Kato and the BIFF “are a million times more important than the people here” (pointing to the MILF delegation).

An MILF source said the MILF delegation did not react nor mention a single word “and let the sour-graping passed.”

The MILF delegation was composed of Murad, lawyer Michael Mastura and Maulana Alonto, along with secretariat member Mohajirin Ali.

In that meeting, the OIC was trying to set up the formal architecture of the Bangsamoro Coordination Forum consisting of the MNLF factions and the MILF which will discuss and decide on major issues affecting the parties as well as ways and means to move the Bangsamoro agenda together.

The MNLF has three factions now with Muslimin Sema, chair of the bigger faction and another, the Islamic Command Council.

The MILF said the Bangsamoro coordinating forum did not prosper because of the hardening position of Misuari, who always viewed unity that anchored on the MILF and other MNLF factions returning to the fold of the MNLF unconditionally.

According to the MILF, OIC secretary general Ihsanoglu attended the signing of the GPH-MILF Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro in Malacañang on October 15.

In November 2011, the MILF said Misuari and Kato met in Maguindanao to discuss possible common ground on which their forces could cooperate.

“Misuari emerged from the meeting praising Kato and the BIFF,” the MILF said.

Days after the meeting, however, Kato fell seriously ill and has not been seen or heard publicly since.

The MILF claims it has very reliable information that Kato, a foreign trained Moro leader who broke away from the mainstream MILF after the botched signing of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain in 2008, is still alive but cannot talk.

The BIFF gained notoriety when it launched attacks against government and civilian positions in Maguindanao and North Cotabato since 2008.

The Army branded it as lawless elements with ties to regional terror group Jemaah Islamiya.

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