After the martyrdom of
Sheikh Salamat Hasyim rahimahullah in 2003 at
Camp Mineral, Lanao del Sur, as a result of an aerial
bombardment from the Filipino aircraft, the leadership
of the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) was
carried on by Al-Haj Murad Ebrahim. However, in the
course of the leadership in the last decade, setback
after setback instead happened, which led to the
splitting of the MILF resistance organization to turn
into smaller factions.
At least, at the present time, there are five factions
that exist and conduct activities in various regions
in Mindanao, South Philippines. Three of the major
factions are, the MILF Faction which is led by
Al-Haj Murad Ebrahim in several separate areas in
Mindanao, The Aleem Aziz Mimbantas Faction in
Lanau del Norte and the Commander Kato Faction
in Central Mindanao.
Commander Kato in Central Mindanao has a closeness of
history with Sheikh Salamat Hasyim rahimahullah.
Around him are early leaders who were the pioneers in
the founding of the MILF in the time of the leadership
of Sheikh Salamat Hasyim. Due to that, Commander Kato
has the assertiveness of methods in the struggle which
currently makes him the torch of spirit for the Moro
people to keep doing armed resistance against the
Commander Kato has adequate Islamic understanding
background, that he is able to select the means or
methods of struggle method that hold fast to the
Islamic Shari'ah, unlike the MILF with its Al-Haj
Murad which he has left, which always depends on the
rhythm of the government of Philippines, so what
happened was the gradual destruction of the Moro
liberation organization, the MILF, without the central
committee of the MILF (core leaders of the MILF)
The failure of the peace talks between the MILF under
the leadership of Al-Haj Murad Ebrahem, and the
Goverment of Philippine in 2008, had sparked a new war
on the island of Mindanao, mostly inhabited by the
Maguindanao, Maranao and Iranon Muslim tribes.
The key Ulama's of the MILF who are loyal
followers of the MILF leader who had been shaheed,
Sheikh Salamat Hashim rahimahullah, got a
compelling reason to do manoeuvres and attacks the
army camps, particularly in the towns around the
province of Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur.
Ustadz Amiril Umbra Kato, the Commander of Division
105 in Maguindanao had attacked the army camps in the
area of Maguindanao, Midsayap, Sultan Kudarat,
Kidapawan and North Cotabato. So a great war raged.
Victims were falling. The Armed Forces of the
Philippine (AFP) suffered major losses from the
vicious attacks that had never been expected.
Amiril Umbra Kato, Leader of BIFF,
Hero Figure of Jihad
In the aftermath of the
attacks , Ustadz Amiril Umbra Kato became a new
figure, the 'Hero of Jihad' and a 'phantom' dreaded by
the enemy, i.e the government of Philippines. And then
Ustadz Amiril Umbra Kato broke away from the MILF and
formed the BIFF (Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighter).
Therefore, the BIFF started its own struggle in
Mindanao in 2008.
In tandem with these widespread attacks, Commander
Abdurrahman Bravo, the Commander of Division 113 in
the wilayah (region) of Lanao del Norte, also
launched attacks against Kauswagan. And then the war
raged in the wilayah of Lanao del Norte and
Lanao del Sur.
The heat of this war had forced the American forces in
South Philippines to move the concentration of a joint
exercise between the Armies of Philippines and
America. The name of the joint exercise was
Balikatan Exercise, which aimed at pursuing the
strength of the Mujahideen of the Abu Sayyaf group
that conducted guerrilla warfare in the area of Jolo
With the various attacks and rapid progress in war
achieved by the BIFF and that which caused huge losses
on the part of the government of Philippines, so later
the operation of the Philippines-America joint
exercise also included the BIFF into the new targets
of their operation... To be continued.