Muslim Hate in the Philippines
Koran, boots and scarves all that remain in Philippine rebel leader's lair
By Martin Petty
MARAWI CITY, Philippines (Reuters) - Prayer mats, chequered scarves,
black fatigues, and bullet-ridden walls mark the hideout where the
"emir" of Islamic State in Southeast Asia spent months preparing the
most brazen and devastating militant attack in the region.
A four-storey house in a quiet alley of Marawi City in the southern
Philippines was the secret lair of Isnilon Hapilon until late May.
After a botched military raid to apprehend him, a thousand-strong rebel
alliance held large parts of the city for five months.
Hapilon's death in a military operation elsewhere in Marawi on Oct. 16
was the catalyst for the end of Philippines' longest and most intense
urban battle in recent history.
Security forces moved in on the house on May 23, trying to capture the
country's most wanted man, but came under sustained attack from rebels
firing rocket-propelled grenades.
A bomb-battered structure, shattered windows and wall-to-wall holes
from machine gun fire tell the story of the ferociousthree-day battle
that erupted at Hapilon's hideout, and promptedthe call to hundreds of
fighters to expedite the plannedtakeover of Marawi.
Hapilon escaped through a large hole that was blasted out of a rear
wall, making his way across a rice field to a mosque next to the vast
Lake Lanao. From there, he joined the guerrillas.
Community volunteers on Thursday showed Reuters the house in the now
empty, narrow street where the military believes Hapilon had lain low
for several months. All other properties were intact and neighbours had
fled long ago.
"At the time, no one knew who these people were. People saw them about
but there was no reason to suspect anything," said Mohammed Seddick
Raki, who lived nearby.
Other volunteers said women and children stayed at the rented house and visitors were frequent.
Children's shoes were scattered amid the debris and a woman's robe was hanging from a window.
Inside the house, black shirts, pants and plaid scarves synonymous with
Islamic State were strewn across rooms littered with broken floor tiles
and chunks of rock from blasted walls.
Left behind were waterproof boots, a balaclava, medical supplies and
camouflage bags and waistcoats typically used by soldiers to carry
Coated in a think layer of dust on floors of every room were
pocket-sized copies of the Koran, some with pages stained by water
leaked through gaping holes in the roof.
A mosque, about 100 metres behind the house, was the venue for an
annual gathering in Marawi of Tablighi Jamaat, a Sunni missionary
movement, just days before the fighting erupted.
Military officials say the foreigners who fought in Hapilon's alliance
- among them Indonesians, Malaysians and some from Arab states - had
used that event as a cover to slip into Marawi without raising
The deputy task force commander in Marawi, Colonel Romeo Brawner, said
Hapilon evaded security forces because rebels had a network of lookouts
and gunmen ready to defend him.
"They put up heavy resistance. They were spread across a large area.
They were strategically placed," he said. "They were prepared for it."
Hapilon's escape in the last week of May led to anarchy in the city of
about 200,000. Rebels took hostages, set fire to buildings, ransacked
churches, broke into the local jail to free inmates and looted an
The government had insufficient security forces in Marawi to prevent
the fighters from fanning out across the city and seizing hundreds of
Hapilon was wanted by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
and had a bounty on his head of up to $5 million (£3.8 million). He was
killed by army rangers in a night operation and his body was retrieved
from the battle zone in the heart of the city. His identity was
confirmed by the FBI's DNA analysis.
The city of Marawi was all but destroyed by government air strikes and
shelling that levelled commercial areas and crushed thousands of shops,
homes and vehicles.
"No one could have known what would happen," said Mohamed Faisal Mama,
a resident in the same Basak Malutlot district where Hapilon was hiding.
"No one knew them. They weren't famous then."
Thousands flee Philippine city after rebel rampage claimed by Islamic State
May 24, 2017
By Romeo Ranoco | PANTAR, PHILIPPINES
Thousands of civilians fled fighting in the Philippines on Wednesday as
troops tried to fend off Islamist militants who took over large parts
of a city, capturing Christians, seizing and torching buildings and
setting free scores of prisoners.
Islamic State claimed responsibility for the rampage via its Amaq news
agency, and President Rodrigo Duterte defended his decision to declare
martial law on Mindanao, the Muslim-majority island where Marawi City
is located, to prevent the spread of extremism in the impoverished
The violence flared in Marawi on Tuesday afternoon after a botched raid
by security forces on a hideout of the Maute, a militant group that has
pledged allegiance to Islamic State.
Fighters quickly dispersed, torching buildings and taking over bridges,
a hospital, two jails, a church and a college. Duterte said he heard
reports they may have beheaded a police chief.
He said Islamic State must be repelled from the Christian-majority
Philippines and he would use all means possible to crush the Maute
group and the allied Abu Sayyaf, whatever the consequences.
"Anyone now holding a gun, confronting government with violence, my
orders are spare no one, let us solve the problems of Mindanao once and
for all," said Duterte, who is from the island, after cutting short a
visit to Russia and returning to Manila.
"If I think you should die, you will die. If you fight us, you will
die. If there's an open defiance, you will die, and if it means many
people dying, so be it. That's how it is."
Soldiers and guerrillas set up rival checkpoints and roadblocks on
routes in and around Marawi as civilians fled the city of 200,000 in
droves, leaving behind what one official described as a ghost town.
Long queues of pickup trucks and jeeps crammed full of people and
loaded with belongings crawled along roads into nearby towns as troops
searched vehicles for weapons and bombs.
The military said it had rescued 120 people from a school and a
hospital and was trying to isolate Maute fighters while awaiting
reinforcements that were being blocked by rebels.
Maute snipers and booby traps were hampering operations, which the army said could last three more days.
The Catholic church said militants were using Christians and a priest
as human shields and had contacted cardinals with threats to execute
hostages unless government troops withdrew.
Thirteen militants and seven security personnel have so far been killed and 33 troops wounded, the army said.
Mujiv Hataman, governor of the Autonomous Region in Mindanao, said militants freed 107 prisoners, among them Maute rebels.
Duterte said martial law would mean checkpoints and arrests and
searches without warrant, and it would go on for as long as necessary.
He said he would consider some security measures in the central Visayas
region next to Mindanao to facilitate arrests, and could even declare
martial law nationwide. He was furious that militants had hoisted the
Islamic State flag in Marawi.
"I made a projection, not a prediction, that one of these days the
hardest things to deal with would be the arrival of ISIS," Duterte
said, referring to Islamic State.
"The government must put an end to this. I cannot gamble with ISIS because they are everywhere."
Duterte said he would not tolerate abuses of power by security forces
under martial law, but critics said the military rule in all of
Mindanao, an island the size of South Korea with a population of 22
million, was an overreaction.
The National Union of Peoples' Lawyers, a group of human rights
attorneys, called it "a sledgehammer, knee-jerk reaction" that would
"open the flood gates for unbridled human rights violations".
The military has not explained how the raid on an apartment hideout
went so badly wrong. The operation was aimed at capturing Isnilon
Hapilon, a leader of the Abu Sayyaf group notorious for piracy,
banditry and for kidnapping and decapitating Westerners.
The Maute and Abu Sayyaf have proved fierce opponents for the military.
The armed forces said they were on top of the situation but residents who fled told a different story.
"The city is still under the control of the armed group. They are all
over the main roads and two bridges leading to Marawi," student Rabani
Mautum told Reuters in Pantar town, about 16 km (10 miles) away.
Bishops and cardinals urged Islamic leaders to persuade militants to free innocent hostages.
"We beg every Filipino to pray fervently," said Father Socrates
Villegas, president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the
Duterte declares martial law in Philippine island of Mindanao in response to militant attacks
May 23, 2017
Los Angeles Times
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law on the
southern island of Mindanao on Tuesday night after a city there was
rocked by clashes between government forces and Islamist militants.
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella announced the declaration in
Moscow, where Duterte arrived Tuesday for a five-day state visit.
Martial law on the island — which is home to more than 20 million
people — began at 10 p.m. and will last for 60 days, Abella said.
This marks the first time Duterte has declared martial law since he was
elected in June 2016. He will cut his Russia trip short, postponing
scheduled meetings with President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister
Dmitry Medvedev, according to the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Duterte declared a nationwide “state of lawlessness” in September 2016
after a suspected terror attack in Davao, the island’s biggest city,
killed 14 people. The declaration granted the military special powers
to aid in police operations, such as setting up checkpoints and patrols.
Martial law is much more consequential; it raises the specter of
warrantless arrests and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus,
which grants detainees the right to challenge the legality of their
Many Filipinos are particularly sensitive about martial law, as the
late Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos used it to detain and torture
opponents from 1973 until 1981.
On Tuesday afternoon, at least 15 members of the Maute group — Islamist
militants believed to be inspired by Islamic State — stormed the city
of Marawi, the capital city of the province of Lanao del Sur.
Residents posted photos of the ensuing clashes online. Many showed the
Philippine military installing checkpoints; army tanks rolling through
city streets; and massive fires raging at three local institutions,
including the city jail. The number of casualties remains unclear.
Maute militants were seen riding through Marawi atop at least two
vehicles and flying the black banner of Islamic State, the Philippine
online magazine Rappler reported.
Duterte has made a brutal anti-drug campaign a centerpiece of his early
tenure, enabling thousands of extrajudicial killings by police and
vigilantes. Critics have accused him of exercising power without
In August, Duterte threatened to declare martial law if the
Philippines’ judiciary blocked his drug campaign. "Please do not create
a confrontation, a constitutional war. We will all lose,” he said.
Philippines blast: 3 sought in deadly bombing, Islamists suspected
By Tim Hume and Maria Ressa, CNN
September 4, 2016
(CNN)Police in the Philippines are looking for a man and two women they
want to question in connection with the blast at a crowded market in
Davao City that killed 14 people.
National Police Chief Ronald dela Rosa told CNN on Saturday the blast
late Friday was caused by an improvised explosive device made of mortar
rounds -- which pointed to extremist groups.
Escalating ISIS threat in Southeast Asia: Is the Philippines a weak link?
Dela Rosa told reporters in the southern Philippines city that authorities had eight witnesses, and a sketch of one suspect.
Sixty-eight people were injured at the crowded night market in
President Rodrigo Duterte's hometown, Dela Rosa said. Fifteen of the
injured were in critical condition, CNN Philippines reported, citing
Southern Philippines Medical Center director Leopoldo Vega.
Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte -- the President's son -- said the
city had received a bomb threat two days before the blast, CNN
affiliate ABS-CBN reported.
Members of the UN Security Council called the attack "heinous" and
"cowardly," and said "those responsible for these killings should be
held accountable," according to a press statement issued on Sunday.
Islamists are suspected
On Saturday morning, during a visit to the blast site, Duterte told reporters that Islamist militants could be responsible.
"We are not new to this kind. It is always connected with the Abu
Sayyaf or in Central Mindanao," he said, according to a statement from
"But this is not the first time that Davao City has been sacrificed in the altar of violence."
He said he had warned the public that there could be blowback from
intensified government military operations against the pro-ISIS
Islamist group Abu Sayyaf in Sulu province, where 8,000 troops deployed
in recent weeks.
"We have always been ready for this. I warned, I remember warning
everybody that there could be a reprisal because of the pressure there
in Sulu which is going on," Duterte said.
Abu Sayyaf is a violent extremist group that split from the established
Philippines separatist movement Moro National Liberation Front in 1991.
The group, which remains outside the country's sputtering peace
process, has the stated aim of establishing an independent Islamic
state on the southern island of Mindanao, on which Davao City is
The group first became active in the early 1990s and was responsible
for bombings across the southern Philippines and in the Malaysian state
of Sabah, and more recently has gained headlines for kidnapping and
beheading Western hostages.
The Philippines is a predominantly Catholic country, with a large Muslim population in the south.
Abu Sayyaf: Islamist extremists or profiteering criminals?
'State of lawlessness'
Duterte has described the attack as an act of terrorism, and declared
the nation in "a state of lawlessness," authorizing police and the
military to search cars and frisk people at checkpoints.
The "state of lawlessness" is the mildest of the three executive powers
the President can order, giving him the power to summon the military
and work more closely with police, but falls short of being a
declaration of martial law. The president can only impose martial law
in case of invasion or rebellion, Duterte's spokesman said.
"It's not martial law but I am inviting now the Armed Forces of the
Philippines, the military and the police to run the country in
accordance with my specifications," he said, according to CNN
Duterte, who visited a morgue early Saturday to pay respects to the
dead, said people should submit to searches and frisking at checkpoints
for the sake of public safety.
"We know that this is not a fascist state. I cannot control the
movement of the citizens of the city and every Filipino has the right
to enter and leave Davao. It is unfortunate we cannot stop and frisk
anybody for just any reason," he said.
Police and military are on high alert across the country, and
authorities have urged the public to be vigilant in case of further
Duterte's war on drugs
Duterte, the longtime mayor of Davao City, has faced domestic and
international criticism since taking national office for his hardline
stance on suspected drug offenders.
Rodrigo Duterte promised to fight drug dealers
The Philippine Daily Inquirer's "Kill List" -- regarded as one of the
most accurate records of the killings of suspected drug dealers by
police and vigilantes -- has recorded 832 deaths since Duterte assumed
office June 30. Police say at least 239 drug suspects were killed in
the three weeks after Duterte's inauguration.
Duterte's war on drugs leaves bodies in the street
'I am really scared'
Leonor Rala, a 19-year-old medical technology student at San Pedro
College, told CNN Friday night that she was terrified after the blast
struck near her dorm.
She said she initially thought something had fallen on the roof of a
neighboring building. She went down to survey the scene of the blast,
about 100 yards from her dorm. Emergency teams were already in place.
"I am really scared to go out," she said. "Some of my schoolmates are victims of the explosion and now dead."
She continued: "We're very terrified because Davao City was known to be
the safest city in the Philippines and a situation like this is very
Troops are killed, some beheaded, in southern Philippines
By Carlos H. Conde
International Herald Tribune
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
MANILA: At least 14 government troops were killed in some of the
heaviest fighting with Muslim insurgents in the southern Philippines in
recent months, officials said Wednesday.
Military officials said they had recovered the bodies of 14 marines
after clashes with suspected Abu Sayyaf militants late Tuesday in
Tipo-tipo, a hinterland town on Basilan island, and that at least 10 of
them had been beheaded.
A marine spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Ariel Caculitan, said in Manila
that 50 marines had clashed with more than 300 rebels. "We were totally
outnumbered," he said.
Major General Ben Mohammad Dolorfino suggested that the marines had
been beheaded by Abu Sayyaf in retaliation for the slaying of the son
of one of the group's leaders. "They got angry, that's why they
decapitated the marines," Dolorfino said.
However, leaders of another group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front,
said it was its own fighters who had fought with the marines and killed
23 of them. But the front's spokesman, Abu Majid, denied the front's
fighters had beheaded the marines. He said this was done by
"unidentified groups" after the fighting, and that the front planned to
investigate. He said four rebels had been killed and seven wounded.
Majid also said the violence could have been avoided had the government
troops, who had entered the area in search of a kidnapped Roman
Catholic priest from Italy, consulted with the front first. "We have
all the mechanism in the cease-fire that allows coordination and to
prevent this kind of unfortunate incident," he said.
The military said the marines had been patrolling Tipo-tipo to check
out reports that the Reverend Giancarlo Bossi, who was kidnapped last
month in Zamboanga Sibugay Province, also in the southern Philippines,
had been taken to Basilan.
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front has been fighting for a separate
Islamic state for Filipino Muslims in the south for three decades; a
cease-fire is in effect, although there have been violations. The
agreement requires both sides to coordinate their movements if one side
ventures into an area where the other side is present. Majid said he
did not understand why the marines did not notify the front of its
operations in Tipo-tipo.
Mohaqher Iqbal, the head of the front's negotiating panel, said: "Our
troops thought they were under attack. That's why they fought back. It
should have not happened."
The Philippine government had said that some elements of the Moro
Islamic Liberation Front were also working with Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah
Islamiyah, two groups that have been blamed for some of the most
horrific terrorist attacks in the country since 2001.
The front has denied any connection with Abu Sayyaf or Jemaah Islamiyah, but promised to purge its ranks of extremists.
Muslim Filipinos Vote as Violence Rages in Southern Philippines
By Nancy-Amelia Collins
Jakarta – Voice of America
11 August 2008
Over a million and a half Muslim Filipinos have voted in a regional
election held amid escalating violence between the government and
Muslim separatists in the southern Philippines. VOA correspondent
Nancy-Amelia Collins in Jakarta reports.
Around 1.6 million Muslim Filipinos voted Monday for a governor, vice
governor, and 24 members of a regional legislative assembly in the
six-province Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, known as the ARMM.
Local and international observers called the polls generally peaceful
but marred by perennial problems such as tainted voter's lists.
Fighting between Muslim rebels and government troops in North Cotabato,
which is not part of the ARMM, did not directly affect the elections.
Tensions remained high in the region as troops battled with hundreds of
separatist Muslim fighters in North Cotabato forcing an estimated
130,000 people to flee their homes.
The fighting began Sunday after rebels from the Moro Islamic Liberation
Front, or MILF, defied a government ultimatum to withdraw from several
Christian villages in North Cotabato on the southern island of Mindanao.
Mohaqher Iqbal, the chief peace negotiator for the MILF, told VOA the violence was escalating.
"Fighting is still on going and it is worsening day by day because more
troops coming from the government are enforcing their positions in
various towns in the province," said Iqbal. "Our forces are defending
themselves from this operation by the Philippine Forces."
The flare up of violence in the southern Philippines follows a decision
last week by the country's Supreme Court to suspend a deal for an
expanded Muslim homeland the group had agreed on with the government.
MILF chief negotiator Iqbal warned the peace process was in danger of collapsing.
"We are negotiating with the Philippine government as the sole
representative of the government of the Republic of the Philippines.
And then as to the internal squabbles to the three branches of
government, the position of the MILF is that that is internal to the
Philippine government, and if the Supreme Court rules negative, then as
far as we are concerned, the peace process is practically dead," added
The ARMM, the country's poorest region, was created in 1989, as part of
a deal to end the conflict with another large Muslim separatist group,
the Moro National Liberation Front.
The MILF has been negotiating with Manila since 1997 to enlarge the
Muslim homeland and grant it wider political, economic, and social
But the Supreme court's decision last week to put on hold the expanded
territorial deal, which, among other things, would allow the proposed
Muslim homeland to retain 75 percent of all revenues from its natural
resources, has created uncertainty.
The 12,000 strong MILF has been fighting with the government since the
late 1960's in a conflict that has claimed the lives of more than
The Philippines is predominately Roman Catholic, but around 5 percent
of the population is Muslim and the majority of them live in the south.
Islamic separatists kill 28 in Philippines rampage
August 18, 2008
International Herald Tribune
Islamic separatists attacked
several towns and villages Monday in the troubled southern Philippine region of
Mindanao, killing at least 28 people in a rampage that, officials said, included
hacking several people with machetes and spraying bullets into buses.
The attacks came as tens of
thousands of villagers in other areas of Mindanao were returning to their homes
following the fighting last week between government troops and the
News reports from Mindanao
said several of the victims had been hacked with machetes. The rebels, according
to officials, also burned down houses. The police said that the fatalities were
mostly civilians, mainly farmers, while an undetermined number were soldiers.
Officials said more than 200
rebels attacked at least four towns in two provinces in Mindanao.
President Gloria Macapagal
Arroyo called the attacks "sneaky and treacherous" and ordered the military and
the police "to defend every inch of Philippine territory" against the Moro
Islamic Liberation Front, the main Islamic separatist group operating
"I will crush any attempt to
disturb peace and development in Mindanao," the president said in a
The civilians were killed
when the rebels withdrew, said Brigadier General Hilario Atendido, a military
commander in the area. "They used them as human shields," Atendido said,
speaking on the radio station DZBB. "The rebels killed them on their way out."
According to news reports,
the rebels also took several residents as hostages. A bus driver told a radio
station in Mindanao that the rebels, shouting "Kill them all!" fired on his bus.
The driver did not say how many of his passengers were wounded or killed.
Mohamad Khalid Dimaporo, the
governor of Lanao del Sur Province, said that the rebels were moving toward
Christian-dominated towns in the coastal areas and that the military was
directing its forces to protect those places.
"The military is doubling
its forces," he told ABS-CBN television. "The highest priority now is to secure
the coastal towns."
Eid Kabalu, a spokesman for
the rebel front, said it was still checking reports that the attackers were
rebels. He urged the public "not to jump to conclusions" as the front
investigated the attacks.
But in case the rebels were
front members, Kabalu urged them to stop the violence and to pull out of the
province. He said the Moro Islamic Liberation Front did not issue any directive
to carry out the attacks.
The violence this week,
which began on Sunday in Lanao del Sur, where four soldiers and four
military-supported militia members were killed, is certain to complicate the
peace negotiations between the government and the front.
Two weeks ago, both sides
had reached an agreement that they thought could end the fighting. But it was
scuttled because of protests over the concessions that were to be given to the
Muslim rebels. Government negotiators then said they were willing to abandon the
peace agreement because of the backlash it caused in the Philippines. Analysts
had said the breakdown of the talks could lead to more violence.
The new attacks, said the
army chief, General Alexander Yano, were a "clear manifestation of the
insincerity to the peace process of a significant portion" of the Moro Islamic
Liberation Front. This, he added, "is a virtual declaration of war against the
duly constituted authority."
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