MORO ISLAMIC LIBERATION FRONT – M.I.L.F
The Spanish ruled the Philippines for hundreds of years. The word “Moros” came, probably, from the Spanish term “Moors” that refers to the Muslims of Spain and the Maghreb (North Africa).
The fact that 4.5 million Muslims, 5% of the Philippines population, are concentrated in the poor South always raised tension with the Christian North and a long-lasting conflict about the self determination, the share of the national wealth and the degree of cultural and political autonomy of the Muslims in the South, in a prominently Christian country. Groups like Abu Sayyaf, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MI.LF) or Rajah Sulayman Group (RSG) – all emerged and operated in the South of the PHILIPPINES, in Mindanao and the surrounding Islands in the last decades.
Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MI.LF), a faction from the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), founded by Nur Misuari in 1969 and was operating in Mindanao since the early 70s’, was formed in 1981 by Hashim Salamat and his followers. The area where the group is active is called Bangsamoro and it covers the southern portion of Mindanao and the neighbor islands. MI.LF, generally speaking, tried to avoid unnecessary casulties among innocent civilians –contrary to Abu Sayyaf that deliberately targeted innocents.
In 01/1987, The MI.LF refused to accept an offer of semi-autonomy. The MI.LF became the largest separatist group in the Philippines. A general cessation of hostilities was signed in July 1997, but this agreement was broken in 2000 by Joseph Estrada’s government. The MI.LF initially declared a Jihad but became more restrained and receptive, especially following claims that it had links to the Abu Sayyaf or Al Qaeda.
MI.LF applied to its struggle as a national struggle for recognition and self determination and not a part of a world wide Global Jihad. A cease-fire accord was signed with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2004. Despite the cease fire MI.LF is accused of continuing attacks against Philippines army units but MI.LF denied its responsibility and it seems that Abu Sayyaf, INDONESIAN JI fugitives from Indonesia and MI.LF dissidents are behinds those attacks.
In 03/2007, the Philippine government offered to recognize the right of self-determination for the Moros.
Today (10/2007) MI.LF, under the leadership of Al Hajj Murad Ebrahim, is engaged in an ongoing negotiation with the Philippines regime. MI.LF is controlling a 30,000 men guerilla army and is practicing some sort of autonomy in small parts of Southern Mindanao and some neighbor small islands.
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