Sunday, July 3, 2011

Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, BIFF: Islamo-fascism's New Degenerate Stepchild

On June 3rd, 2011 villagers began fleeing from South Cotabato's Barangay Ned in the municipality of T'boli when large BIAF elements were sighted moving through the jungle. The PNP and AFP (Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines) were alerted and ratcheted up operations and defenses around key Government installations but the furor soon died down, with most of the 400 villagers who had temporarily became IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons,as in"refugees") finally returning home. At the same time there were sightings of BIAF columns across the border in Sultan Kudarat Province, as well as in the province of Saragani which is also adjacent to South Cotabato. Showing their new "attitude" the AFP said that the sightings weren't BIAF at all. Rather they claimed, the armed guerillas stomping through the bush were BIFF, or Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters. The BIFF is the well armed guerilla army that was founded by the BIAF's most powerful Commander, or in Filipino English, "Kumander."

Kumander Ustadz Ameril Ombra Kato is a 67 year old Maguindanowan Tribesman who was an anomaly amongst his fellow BIAF Kumanders. With the MILF/BIAF beginning life as an Islamo-fascist faction within the MNLF, in 1977, as that organisation imploded in the face of the 1976 Tripoli Agreement, most BIAF Kumanders had decades of combat experience by the time Kumander Kato joined the fray. Still, he became the most popular amongst the rank and file and seemed to inspire the most loyalty. To understand why, one needs to examine the MNLF, the organisation where it all began.

The MNLF had never been especially cohesive to begin with. As I have noted more than once in various entries, the MNLF's co-founding Chairman, Nus Misuari, helped invent the entire "Bangsamoro" identity as a way in which to help overcome the deep tribal, ethnic, and geographical differences and loyalties that had theretofore inhibited co-operation and progress for each one of the 13 Islamicised ethno-linguistic groups of the Southern Philippines. Despite that huge effort the nascent MNLF never truly coalesced after its 1972 formation. Misuari, though like many leaders of the Philippine Islamic insurgencies claims to be of mixed ancestry (in his case Tausug and Sama, or as its often mispronounced, Samal) is in reality, 100% Tausug. In real terms this had no bearing in his home province of Sulu where the Tausug had occupied positions of power since their arrival there in the late 14th Century. The Sultunate of Sulu was through and through Tausug as were most of the lesser Datus and petty Rajahs. Because of the Tausug's niche in Sulu geopolitics Misuari was able to rise almost unchallenged on Jolo Island, the provincial population centre, while drawing in support from the rest of Sulu Province.

On Mainland Mindanao it was a much different story. The MNLF's success was entirely dependent upon Misuari's pragmatic accomodations with the various ethno-centric groups ensconced in Mindanao, groups like the MIM (Mindanao Independence Movement) Black Shirts in Cotabaoto City, a Maguindanowan-centric entity, the BMLO (Bangsamoro Liberation Organization) of Marawi (now Marawi City), a Maranaw (Maranao) centrist group, and so on and on it went. Tribal/ethnic tension was never far from the surface. In addition there were deep ideological divisions, most notably Secularism versus Islamic orientation, though more often it was rank Islamo-fascism...Enter Hashim Salamat, who by 1976 had become the Chairman of the Kutawato (Cotabato) Revolutionary Committee, one of the MNLF's most powerful political regions, and concurrently Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

The first position gave Salamat control over his tribal base of power. Though he claimed to be an admixture of Maguindanowan (Maguindanao), Maranaw (Maranao), and Iranun (Illanun) he was purely Maguindanowan. Then, in the latter position, Salamat was able to develop extremely valuable foreign connections that served as a conduit for both political AND financial support.

When Misuari steamrolled the MNLF Central AND Executive Committees in his rush to sign the Tripoli Agreement in 1976 he alienated a good many members of both committees. Misuari's approach was construed as arrogance, and even worse, despotism and so the ideological, geographical, and ethnic/tribal differences rapidly became fissures which began snowballing until 1977 when the organisation ruptured into 4 distinct organisations, all trying to retain the MNLF name. I will leave three of those organisations for an entry devoted to the History of the MNLF or a Portrait of a Warlord entry on Misuari himself. The fourth group though, calling itself the "MNLF" was led by Hashim Salamat. Salamat would insist on retaining the MNLF identity until 1981 when he finally relinquished his hold on it and christened his group the MILF, and not long after, its military wing,the BIAF.

Most in the BIAF hierarchy were tried and true BMA officers, the BMA being the MNLF's military wing, the Bangsamoro Army. These were men who were battle tested, capable guerilla commanders. On the other hand, Kumander Kato didn't join ANY militant organisation until 1995. The word "Ustadz" is actually an honorific applied to Islamic Teachers and so it was that during the MILF/BIAF's most bloody years, while those MNLF veterans were paying their dues with years in the bush, Kato was busying himself teaching Kalagan Tribal children the rudimentary aspects of the Qur'an in two madrassahs (Islamic schools) in the municipalities of Banaybanay and Lupon in Davao Oriental Province. Not only was Kato not carrying a rifle, he wasn't even helping in a Conflict Affected Area. The Kalagan are a tribe that converted to Islam en masse in the early decades of the 20th Century. They had no history of taking up arms against the Spanish, Americans, OR Filipinos. Moreover, Davao Oriental Province was far removed from any aspect of "Islamic resistance" despite a tiny BIAF camp in the nearby municipality of Tarragona in what would eventually become the first camp of the 107 Base Command under its original leader Sonny Davao. The province was dominated by the Maoist NPA (as indeed it is today) to the point that BIAF guerillas never left the confines of the movement's smallest camp in size and manpower, if armed and/or in fatigues.

At 53 years of age Ustadz Kato left his Kalagan students, picked up an M16 and went into the bush. The MNLF had just inked what it naively believed was an FPA, or Final Peace Agreement with the Ramos Government in 1996. As 7,000 MNLF guerillas were absorbed into the AFP and PNP, Manila heaved a sigh of relief. It had neutralised one third of the BMA in one fall swoop and hadn't had to waste a single bullet while doing it. On the other hand, thousands of BMA guerillas on Mainland Mindanao were all dressed up with nowhere to go. These disaffected, jobless jungle fighters simply joined the BIAF, thus making the BIAF a true force to reckon with. Many felt that the FPA was a sellout, and in this they were on common ground with Kato. Ustadz Kato had always been a strong believer in Jihad and had felt unfufilled having reached the back end of middle age without ever having raised a fist in defense of the faith. The proverbial milquetoast, slight of build, soft spoken and terribly near sighted, yet he had an untapped genius for tactical planning and un-realised charismatic appeal. Kato's indoctrination began at the now defunct MILF Camp Abubakar where he took a basic 30 day course incumbent upon all MILF and BIAF members.

Kato didn't necessarily have to channel his energy into violence in order to help his cause. Nearing the age of 40 in the mid-1980s Kato had left his family and entered a rigirous academic track at Riyadh University, in Saudi Arabia. Not content with following the beaten path he read Comparative Theology with an eye on Islamic Apologetics. The idea behind such course work is to train and equip Islamic clerics and teachers in the battle for souls. How can you battle Christianity if you don't even understand Christian beliefs? Though Islam loudly proclaims that it accepts Jesus as a Prophet it does so through the prism of Gnostic Christianity, variants that have been extinct for well over a thousand years. Kato hoped to learn what Christianity thought today, how it perceived Islam, and in doing so learn ways in which to convert Christians and help fellow Muslims to remain strong in their faith in the face of spiritual depradations at the hands of Christian missionaries.

Returning to his hometown of Datu Piang, in Maguindanao Province, he took additional wives, bringing his number of spouses up to the maximum four allowed under Islam. Fathering 15 children between all his wives he embarked upon his work with the Kalagan Tribe and armed himself for Spiritual Jihad, the battle within. Theologically speaking, most Muslims accept the premise that the world is divided into two spheres, two parallel worlds. On one hand there is Dar al Islam, or the Land of Islam, the Land of Submission. This is the world of the Muslim, the True Believer. The other sphere? Dar al Harb, the Land of War. The claim that Islam is a "Religion of Peace" is absolutely incorrect. It is a fallacy manufactured for Western minds already addled with the cancer of Political Correctness. There is no middle ground between these two spheres. You are either a Muslim, allowed to live in peace, or as the subjugated vassal of a Muslim in what is known as "al Dhimmi." The alternative is that you live in the Land of War. This is the outlook that rationalises so called "Outer Jihad," Physical Jihad, Violent Jihad.

Not content to battle for Kalagan minds and souls, Kato actively sought out his involvement with the MILF/BIAF.It was during his requisite 30 days training at Camp Abubakar that he came to the attention of a senior staff member of the BIAF, none other than Salamat Samir, the brother of founder and Chairman Hashim Salamat. With his academic pedigree and advanced age Kato could have easily chosen one of several non-violent paths within the movement. He could have taught at one of several affiliated schools or academies, he could have laboured on the political side of the equation, or he could have become an important member of the MILF Shari'a Court or Da'wa Center (Islam Prostelysation). Instead, Kato insisted on becoming a guerilla. So it was that Kato was assigned as a guerilla in the elite National Guard Field Division under the aforementioned Salamat Samir. Before long Samir recognised that Kato had a way of inspiring young guerillas and instead of nurturing Kato and utilising this quality for the betterment of the movement he sought to sideline him by transferring him to a less powerful formation, the 206th Brigade, in the 2nd Field Division of the BIAF, deployed at Camp Omar ibn Khattab in Talayan, Guindulungan, and four other municipalities in Maguindanao Province. Although this transfer was designed to limit Kato's role, the deployment was the fastest track towards gaining real life experience, in that it was the largest brigade in the largest field division and so it saw the most combat. The National Guard Field Division on the other hand was an elite formation personally created by Hashim Salamat as his personal honour guard and so it practically never fired a single round outside of extremely limited target practice sessions.

As Kato's new formation, the 2nd Field Division's 206th Brigade, as noted, it fielded the most armed contacts in the entire BIAF. Prior to the 2000 War the BIAF had developed and fine tuned an expansive, pseudo-conventional military apparattus ("pseudo" because it was conventionally structured in form but not in content. "Field Divisions," which may average 10,000 soldiers in a conventional force sometimes contained less than 350 in the BIAF). With 13 main camps and 43 satellite camps, fully functioning parallel governments the MILF existed as a state within a state and the BIAF existed as that de facto state's de facto military.

As has often been noted, MILF/BIAF "camps" weren't camps in the conventional manner. A conventional camp will have a very well defined perimeter, with redundant perimeter defense systems, at the very least. In the MILF/BIAF camps there was absolutely nothing at all to differentiate them from any other poor barangay in the immediate vicinity. With many BIAF guerillas' families living with them these camps teemed with children who had their own madrassahs (Islamic schools). There were MILF Shar'ia Courts, an MILF Internal Security Force that functioned as a police force entirely outside of the BIAF chain of command, and so on. In short, these camps, as has been noted by many, were simply run of the mill rural Filipino communities in which almost all military age males were BIAF members. With Kato's educational background, holding a university degree earned in Saudi Arabia, he very quickly earned the respect of fighters and families alike. Although, at the time, the BIAF maintained what it called an "Officers Academy" at the MILF/BIAF Headquarters in Camp Abubakar, officers were almost always promoted informally with it being based upon respect gained from the rank and file. It is no suprise then that Kato shot to the top of the pack.

By 1999, after just 3 years in the BIAF, Kato moved to the brigade's number two position, into what conventional forces term the "Executive Officer," or EXO.

I will continue this entry in one entitled, "Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, BIFF: Islamo-fascisms New Degenerate Stepchild, Part II."


  1. Please give us reference from the Qur'aan or from any sahih Hadith that the world in Islam is divided into two: Dar Al-harb and Dar Al-Islam. If you cannot give any, then your claim is the one which is "absolutely incorrect".
    Thank you

  2. The term "Dar al Salaam," or "Land of Peace," the idiomatic equivalent to "Dar al Islam," or "Land of Islam" can indeed be found in the Qur'an: Sura 6, Ayat 127 and again in Sura 10, Ayat 25.

    The term "Dar al Harb" can indeed be found in Hadith, refer to "Umdat as Salik" by al Misry, #43.2.

    The pairing of both terms is incredibly basic in all 4 of the main schools of Shari'a. Abu Hanifa? ibn Tammiyah? Shafi'I? They all expound the concept of "Duwar," or "Houses" which is how the two spheres are also conceptualised, "House of Islam," "House of War." Islam allows no middle ground but does allow and even prescribe Dissemblance to non-Muslims as honourable. Are you dissembling or are you like most Muslims who simply lack even a basic Islamic education above and beyomnd Qur'an Recitation?

  3. 1. So Dar Al-Harb is not found in the Qur'aan. I say again: NOT IN THE QUR'AAN.

    2. "Hadith" about Dar Al-Harb?
    "The notions of "houses" or "divisions" of the world in Islam such as Dar al-Islam and Dar al-Harb does not appear in the Qur'an or the Hadith."

    "'In Reliance of the Traveller', point w43.2, a hadith is referred to containing the exact word Dar al-Harb. SCHOLARS have, nevertheless, DISAGREED on its reliability."


    3. Opinions of any Madh-hab without any basis in Qur'aan or in the Sunnah are TRASH.

    In short, with due respect, your claim is truly "ABSOLUTELY INCORRECT".

    Thank you very much. May God guide us all.

  4. Wikipedia? You have got to be kidding me. At least I now know you are a Western convert. No educated Muslim would ever question ibn Tammiyah, Abu Hanifa, or Shafi'i on Sunna. But let us discuss your view. In your own words, if it isn't in al Qur'an, it isn't acceptable, to paraphrase. How many times is the word "Jerusalem" found in the Qur'an? I don't know what Wiki will tell you so let me cut to the chase and tell you myself. The Qu'ran does not mention Jerusalem even a single time.

    Yet every Muslim on the planet considers Jerusalem to be Islam's third holiesT city after Mecca and al Medina. How ia Jerusalem then deemed holy?

    Duwar, the concept you are disputing, is absolutely Sunna and I gave you more than a couple of references. That Wiki tells you something means absolutely nothing. It is 100% consumer generated content with 100% consumer re-editing at will. I could, if I so desired, go to the Wiki page you used and re-edit to reflect my own stance. It is as worthless as any other entirely subjective musing. This is why Wiki itself advises its readership NOT to rely on information found therein as factual.

  5. Jerusalem? FYI, we call it Masjid Al-Aqsa, and it is in the Qur'aan(see 17:1).

    Now, your basis are the Imaams after failing to prove that the "duwar" are found in the Qur'an and Sahih Ahadith. Please allow me to tell you that the four Imaams are unanimously agreed that if their opinions contradict the Qur'an and Sunnah, we should reject them. For example, Abu Haneefah was quoted saying: "If I have made a ruling which contradicts Allah's book or the Messenger's hadith, reject my ruling". And the others says the almost the same. In fact, students of Abu Haneefah, contradicted some of their teacher's rulings.

    Therefore, to say that "No educated Muslim would ever question ibn Tammiyah[Taymiyyah], Abu Hanifa, or Shafi'i on Sunna" is a clear show of ignorance about Islamic history and jurisprudence.

    If you cannot quote directly from The Qur'an or from any Sahih Ahadith about the "duwar", then please don't just waste your time.

    Thank you again, brother.

  6. Wrong on everything. "al Masjid al Akhsa" simply means, "The Mosque in the Farthest Place." The Arabic name for Jerusalem is "Yerusala'am," though most call it, "al Quds," neither of which are found in the Qur'an. In fact, the Qur'an refers to Judea, the land in which Jerusalem sits, as "The Closest Land" in Sura 30. How could "The Mosque of the Farthest Place" be located in "The Closest Land?"

    Sura 17 refers to the "Night Journey." Muhammad lay down to sleep. During the night people noticed he was missing from the house and began searching for him outside. Near daybreak they finally found him, wandering outside. They asked him where he had been and he told them he had been to "al Masjid al Akhsa." Asked to elaborate Muhammad told them that the Angel Gabriel had summoned him and told him to come with him. Gabriel brought a creature with the body of a mule, the face of a woman, and wings called "al Buraq." He told Muhammad to get on the creature and away they flew, landing at "al Masjid al Akhsa." The Sura was revealed in 620. To further bang home the point, no mosque existed outside al Hejaz (the area in what is now Saudi Arabia where Muhammad spent his life) for another 11 years. The "Masjid" couldn't have been outside of al Hejaz. In fact, there was a mosque halfway between Mecca and the coast that carried THAT name. Muhammad would pray there on trips to the ports while managing Khadijah's buisness though at that time it was still a pagan temple.

    So why do Muslims find Jerusalem holy? In 680 the Ummayyad Dynasty controlled the Caliphate. Based in Damascus it was the first Caliphate outside of al Hejaz. That year, 680, a rebellion in al Hejaz closed off al Hejaz to Muslims outside of the Hejaz. The Ummayyad Caliph feared the ramifications of not controlling al Haj and so they sought an alternative. They built the "Dome of the Rock," the gold covered masjid that sits atop the Temple Mount, across the plaza from the Mosque of 'Umar. The Dome of the Rock's exterior is covered with Qur'an Sura and guess what? 0sura 17 is not one of them.

    Muslims didn't begin referring to Jerusalem as the location of "Masjid al Akhsa" until the 8th Century and it wasn't ingrained until the 11th Century when they needed a strong rationale to battle the Crusaders for the city. It was then that the "Mosque of 'Umar" became "al Masjid al Akhsa." It is then that the first inscriptions were made in Jerusalem stating that.

    The Qur'an never mentions Jerusalem even once.

    As for all 4 Schools of Shari'a saying that IF their judgements or rulings CONTRADICT the Qur'an, their rulings or judgements should be ignored...Do you even understand what "contradiction" means? If the Qur'an says, "Do NOT view the world through Duwar," and the 4 Schools say, "Duwar is fine," then THAT ruling or judgement IS a contradiction. However you claim that Duwar isn't mentioned even once in the Qur'an, remember? If it isn't mentioned in the Qur'an in any capacity, where is the "contradiction?" The Qur'an doesn't mention automobiles and yet I am sure you don't walk everywhere you go.

    In all 4 of your comments you have been wrong on every single point of contention. Perhaps it is time to admit that you are mistaken.

  7. I need to add, you also fail to understand the difference between "Sunna" and "Shari'a." Sunna simply means "Tradition," there are NO "rulings" or "judgements" in it. Shari'a though is Islamic Jurisprudence. Again, no educated Muslim would ever dare to question Hanifa, Shafi'i or Tamiyyah on Sunna.