Request for comment from DFAT on new $60M plans to engage with IS-supporters Moro Islamic Liberation Front
I've just sent this note to the very responsive media people at DFAT.
The following narrative provides a discussion of the program logic that underpins the investment design for the Education Pathways to Peace in Mindanao (PATHWAYS) program.
The central element of this approach is the engagement of the two core actors (the ARMM, specifically the DepEd-ARMM – on behalf of the GPH and the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) on behalf of the MILF) through a ‘twin pathway’ implementation arrangement.
That document advises that DFAT will be engaging with the the Tarbiyyah, ie the Education Committee of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to work on the curriculum of the Madrassas associated with MILF.
A few weeks ago the Islamic State released material regarding its supporters and those who have pledged allegiance to it in The Philippines. This 12 June report from the publication Threat Matrix refers:
‘Amaq News Agency, one of the Islamic State’s news outlets, has released a short infographic detailing the jihadist group’s operations and activities in the Philippines. The infographic is set up similar to those released for official Islamic State wilayats (provinces), which indicates the rising importance of the Philippines for the jihadist group.
The infographic (above) includes several important claims of the Islamic State in the Philippines, including how many groups have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State and where these groups operate. Additionally, it claims 289 Filipino troops have been killed by Islamic State forces since April 2015, including 100 alone in April 2016. The Filipino government has heavily disputed these numbers.
While the infographic contains numbers from April 2015, it confirms the first official announcement of Filipino jihadist groups pledging allegiance to the Islamic State occurred in January 2016. Videos and reports of groups pledging bayah (allegiance) have emerged since 2014, shortly after Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State, claimed the creation of a caliphate. The video in January, however, was the first time the Islamic State publicly accepted these pledges.
A month later, the Islamic State’s Furat media released another video showing more groups pledging allegiance. This includes Isnilon Hapilon, a US-designated terrorist, who heads the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG). In an April issue of the Islamic State’s weekly newsletter Al Naba, the jihadist group said that Hapilon (called Abu Abdullah al Filipini, one of his noms de guerre, in the newsletter) has been appointed as emir of all Islamic State forces in the Philippines according to a translation from the SITE Intelligence Group.
His appointment seems likely as Hapilon is the senior most figure to have defected to the Islamic State in the Philippines. This also means that a formal leadership structure for the Islamic State is in place, exemplifying its expansion in the country. The latest infographic also shows more examples of expansion and gives credence to a formal leadership structure, as ‘Amaq claims that the Islamic State has 10 “fighting battalions” in the Philippines.
This number includes at least a portion or all of ASG, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), Ansar Khilafah in the Philippines, Katibat Ansar al Sharia, Katibat Marakah al Ansar, the Islamic State in Lanao, Jund al Tawhid (a former ASG battalion), Jamaat al Tawhid wal Jihad (a group formerly loyal to al Qaeda), and parts of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
The Islamic State published this photo with the Arabic and apparently Tagalog caption noting the pledge of allegiance to the Islamic State from a group of MILF members.
Assuming the Islamic State photo is genuine and its announcement is factual - why are we engaging with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front's Tarbiyyah committee when parts of that organisation have pledged Bay-ah or allegiance to the Islamic State?
Could I ask for a response by midday tomorrow please?