Wednesday May, 12 2021 05:12:18 PM

6 more BIFF members return to mainstream society

Mindanao Peace Process • 18:00 PM Sun Apr 18, 2021
John M. Unson
The six members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters have promised to reform for good. (From 6th ID)

MAGUINDANAO --- A ranking leader of local terror group, tagged in all deadly bombings in central Mindanao in the past six years, and five followers surrendered Saturday.

Abunawas Ibad and his henchmen renounced their membership with the group during a symbolic rite Saturday at the headquarters of the Army’s 1st Mechanized Brigade in Barangay Kamasi in Ampatuan, Maguindanao.

Abunawas is a self-styled division commander in the BIFF, which operates in the fashion of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

The BIFF has a reputation for bombing non-military targets to avenge deaths of members in clashes with pursuing state security forces.

Abunawas told reporters he and his five men agreed to renounce their membership with BIFF through the backdoor intercession of officials of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, Mayor Victor Samama of Datu Piang town in Maguindanao, Col. Pedro Balisi, Jr. of the 1st Mechanized Infantry Brigade and Major Gen. Juvymax Uy, commander of the 6th Infantry Division.

Abunawas and followers Yasser Bago Abunawas, Anwar Alim Sangki, Olon Bago Abunawas, Mohammad Kanakan Ibad, and Dihan Abdul Ali turned in five assault rifles and a .50 caliber bolt-action sniper rifle before they pledge allegiance to the government during Saturday’s event.

Uy, concurrent commander of the Army-led anti-terror Joint Task Force Central, said Sunday he is thankful that Abunawas and his followers agreed to return to the fold of law.

“This is a good showcase of what strong coordination among local executives, the police and the military can achieve in addressing violent extremism in the area of responsibility of the 6th Infantry Division,” Uy said.

Abunawas and his companions were under the radical cleric Imam Bongos.

Bongos,  leader of one of three factions in the BIFF, is facing more than 20 cases in different courts for acts of terror, including deadly bomb attacks in central Mindanao since 2014.

More than 300 BIFF members have surrendered in batches to units of 6th ID since 2017.

They are now being reintroduced to the local communities via joint interventions by the division, the LGUs, the national government and different agencies of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.


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