- Moro Islamic Liberation Front
Moro Islamic Liberation Front Dates of operation 1978 - Present Leader Murad Ebrahim Motives Moro "Sub-state" creation Active region(s) Philippines Ideology Moro autonomy
Notable attacks 2007 Basilan beheading incident and among others. Status Active
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) (Arabic: جبهة تحرير مورو الإسلامية) is an Islamist group located in the southern Philippines. It is one of two Islamic militant groups, the other being the Abu Sayyaf, that are fighting against Government of the Philippines. These groups are most active in the Bangsamoro region of Mindanao, the Sulu Archipelago, Palawan, Basilan and other neighbouring islands.
the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) is a rebel organization formed in the 1960s following the Jabidah massacre to achieve greater Bangsamoro autonomy in the southern Philippines. The MNLF took part in terrorist attacks and assassinations to achieve their goals. The government in Manila sent troops into the southern Philippines to control the insurgency. In 1976, Libyan politician Muammar Gaddafi brokered a negotiation between the Philippine government and MNLF Leader Nur Misuari which led to the signing of the MNLF-GRPH Tripoli Agreement of 1976 wherein the MNLF accepted the Philippine government's offer of semi-autonomy of the regions in dispute.
The signing of this agreement brought about a serious rift in MNLF leadership, leading to the formation of a breakaway group in 1977 by Hashim Salamat and 57 MNLF officers. The group was initially known as "The New Leadership". Misuari expelled Salamat in December 1977, after which Salamat moved his new organization first to Cairo Egypt and then, in 1980, to Lahore, Pakistan, where it engaged in diplomatic activities. This organization was formally established in 1984 as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Muammar Gaddafi became a longstanding supporter of the MILF after its emergence.
In January 1987, the MNLF accepted the Philippine government's offer of semi-autonomy of the regions in dispute, subsequently leading to the establishment of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. The MILF, however, refused to accept this offer and continued their insurgency operations. A general cessation of hostilities between the government in Manila and the MILF was signed in July 1997 but this agreement was abolished in 2000 by the Philippine Army under the administration of Philippine President Joseph Estrada. In response, the MILF declared a jihad (strived and struggled) against the government, its citizens and supporters. Under President Gloria Arroyo, the government entered into a cease-fire agreement with the MILF and resumed peace talks.
Despite peace negotiations and the cease-fire agreement, the MILF attacked government troops in Maguindanao resulting in at least twenty-three deaths in January 2005. The combined armies of the MILF and Abu Sayyaf were involved in days of fighting which necessitated government troops using heavy artillery to engage rebel forces.
The bombing incident in Davao airport in 2003 which the Philippine government blamed on MILF members, raised speculation that the peace negotiations might be ineffectual in bringing peace to Mindanao if the MILF is unable to control its operatives. The MILF denies ties with terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah, although Jemaah Islamiyah is considered to have provided them with training facilities in areas they control. The MILF also continues to deny connections with Al-Qaeda, though it has admitted to sending around 600 volunteers to Al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan and that Osama Bin Laden sent money to the Philippines, though the group denies directly receiving any payment.
From June 28 to July 6, 2006, conflict between the MILF and armed civilian volunteers under Maguindanao Province governor Andal Ampatuan who were supported by the Philippine Army had been reported. The fighting began after governor Ampatuan blamed the MILF for a June 23 bomb attack on his motorcade, which killed five in his entourage. The MILF denied responsibility, but Ampatuan sent police and civilian volunteers to arrest MILF members connected to the attack. Four thousand families were reported displaced by the fighting that followed, which was ended by a cease-fire agreement signed on July 10 and July 11.
Basilan beheading incident
In March 2007, the Philippine government offered to recognize the right of self-determination for the Moro people which it had never done in three decades of conflict. However on July 12, 2007, Islamic militants in Basilan in the southern Philippines killed 14 marines, beheading 11 of them, while 9 other marines were wounded and about 4 rebels were killed. The fighting took place as the marines were searching for kidnapped Italian priest, Giancarlo Bossi on June 10, 2007. A MILF soldier confirmed that some of its members had been involved in gun battles, despite the MILF peace treaty with the Philippine government. Mohagher Iqbal, the chief negotiator for the MILF, denied that it was responsible for the beheadings and the priest's abduction. On July 19, 2007, despite no ransom being paid, Giancarlo Bossi, who was kidnapped on June 10 in Zamboanga Sibugay province, was freed. Philippine authorities described his kidnappers as members of the Abu Sayyaf. Government authorities blamed a renegade commander of the MILF for Bossi's kidnapping, but it denied any involvement.
According to the provincial administrator of Basilan, more than 900 families have been displaced as a result of the deployment of soldiers in Basilan in response to the beheading of 11 soldiers of the Philippine Marines who were killed in an encounter with MILF in Al-Barkah town. While the MILF owned their responsibility over the death of the 14 soldiers of the Philippine Marines. They describe this as a warning for trespassing in their territory in Basilan. In previous agreements, the two groups have negotiated about respecting MILF camps and presence to avoid conflicts in these areas, an agreement that is prone to violation.
On August 4, 2008, the Supreme Court of the Philippines issued a temporary restraining order, preventing the Government and the MILF from officially signing the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain, which would conclude all dispute and begin formal talks that would lead to the drafting and eventual signing of a Final Comprehensive Compact between the two groups. The Court accepted motions by the southern provincial governments that object to the extended boundaries for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao envisioned in the peace deal. The MOA-AD would have allowed the Moro people gained control of the region under the concept of human rights with the right to establish a police force and to control natural resources.
The MOA-AD was initialed by former governor and peace panel chair Rodolfo García and Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Hermogenes Esperon and MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal on July 27 in Malaysia. It was scheduled for formal signing on August 5, but the Supreme Court issued no negotiation preventing the executive department from signing the agreement. The MOA-AD is the last of several agenda items under the 2001 agreement of the GRP-MILF. after security and relief and rehabilitation, prior to the discussion on the political settlement.
"In these times of hardship, we hold hands as one, with our Christian and Islamic neighbours, in the name of peace, acceptance and justice. We are committed to a democratic and peaceful resolution of the conflict. Do not be afraid of the MOA-AD. To the national public, open your hearts to the Moro grievance."
Over the next month, several MILF commanders were tagged by government officials as having initiated an offensive campaign. This was responded by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, which immediately deployed ten battalions composed of a total of 6,000 soldiers into Mindanao under the command of Lt. Gen. Cardozo Luna. The violence displaced over 600,000 people and left about 300 dead.
On October 14, 2008, the Court, conducted a series of divided votes declared "contrary to law and the Constitution" the MOA-AD of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and Moro Islamic Liberation Front Tripoli Agreement of Peace on 2001. The document of Conchita Carpio-Morales ruled: "In sum, the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process committed grave abuse of discretion when he failed to carry out the pertinent consultation process. The furtive process by which the MOA-AD was designed and crafted runs contrary to and in excess of the legal authority and amounts to a whimsical, capricious, oppressive, arbitrary and despotic exercise thereof. It illustrates a gross evasion of positive duty and a virtual refusal to perform the duty enjoined."
Civil society organizations such as Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society had submitted a Motion for Reconsideration. However, the Supreme Court affirmed its October 14 ruling that declared unconstitutional the initialed MOA-AD between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front on November 21, 2008.
MILF soldiers offered to help free the Irish priest father Michael Sinott, who was kidnapped in the Philippines on October 14, 2009 and sought permission to deploy about 100 of its soldiers in the area where Sinnott is believed to be held. However it was turned down by the Philippine government.
On September 23, 2010, Mohagher Iqbal said that the MILF will pursue for a substate likened to a U.S. State instead of independence from the Philippines. The Muslim substate will not exercise power over national defense, foreign affairs, currency and coinage, and postal services, which the central government exercises. Igbal further added that the substate will not have its own armed forces but instead will have troops for internal security.
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- FAS.org: Moro Islamic Liberation Front
- MILF Central Committee on Information Official Website
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