By: Carino Rey Antequisa
Few days after the start of the Marawi seige, just as the aerial bombing started, I meet a Maranao friend who evacuated in Iligan City. One of his comment that stuck to my head was: "the bombing will recruit more jihadist, its just like the Martial law war that recruited more Moro rebels and NPA guerrillas. Its sad." In his Maranao accented Bisaya, he added: "Nasugdan na man, wala ta mahimo, mag-andam na ta... Muslim ug Christian ... kita tanan biktima. Tabla!"
I smiled and jokingly said: "Na... mouli na lang mi ani sa Bohol."
He joked back: "Dili man safe didto, wa man mahurot ang Abu Sayaf didto. Naa pa lain grupo, nagtago."
We parted ways smiling, but deep inside worried.
As I read the Article below, it sends shivers down my spine. Its the story of Kiram, who was recruited to the Maute Group because he was attracted out of adventurism and the lure of income. His revelations has very profound implication to our security in the coming months and years. What STRUCK me was the part of the report that says:
"Sometime around May 30, the Maute leaders and Isnilon Hapilon gathered their commanders and ordered them to send the new recruits like Karim back home.
"They told me we had to go home and continue the Jihad should they all perish in Marawi City," Karim said.
Motorized bancas were already at the lakeshore in Raya Madaya District and facilitated the escape of around 96 recruits, bringing them home to the different towns surrounding the smoldering city."
"CONTINUE THE JIHAD SHOULD THEY ALL PERISH IN MARAWI," this is a very powerful phrase said to 96 recruits, minus Karim, at most 95! The message of a continuing struggle and to take the place of a fallen comrade who become your hero is very powerful. That is in addition to the idea of sacrificing themselves so that more of the young recruits will survive!
In college, I got recruited to a radical leftist organization. When I took the oath of membership, the last line was "buhay ko man ay i-aalay." After taking the oath, members hug me and said: Serve the People, Bay. I had mixed feelings but was very vivid to me is that I was very determined to keep the oath in whatever ways. I joined the group because I was convince of its ideals and program and I believe I could contribute to its realization. I found a deeper meaning of my uncertain life.
That was just campus activism for a few years taking me five year to finish a four-year course! But I did take that oath seriously, it changed my outlook in life and it led me the life of a development worker now. That oath still reverberate in mind, much more when I read Karim's story.
In the aftermath of 9/11 attack of the Twin Towers, a new phrase gain prominence in the security sector, the term "SLEEPER CELL." Sleeper cells are groups of terrorists who are already in place and ready to act, as opposed to hit squads which are infiltrated into the target place shortly before an attack. Sleeper cells are trained and ready to carry out attacks at a designated time and place.
At least some of the remaining 95 recruits sent by the senior leaders to spread the call for jihad can become deadly "sleeper cells" that could be anywhere in Mindanao, Philippines or Southeast Asia. This sleeper cells will not simply wait, they will also continue recruiting new members and likely work on full-time basis.
Assuming just 10% of them will remain true jihadist, that means at least 9. How many they could potentially recruit?
In my activist days, three decades ago, I could recruit at least 10 in a year. And that is a bad record for recruitment! I know of some of my contemporaries recruiting 20 or more. What for a full-time jihadist and with all the social-media technologies? Not mentioning the fertile ground for jihadism in Lanao del Sur where poverty incidence is the highest in the country and the violence experience by many young people due to clan feuds and fightings with security forces. According to PSA data, 71.9 % of the families in Lanao del Sur lives below the poverty line.
The formal education for young people is not very good, too. According to data published by ABS-CBN, in Marawi City, for every 10 school-age children only 8 can enter Grade 1 (88% participation rate) and only 2 of them will graduate Grade 6 (19% cohort survival rate). This is a very low survival rate that should made us ask the question, what will happen to those who did not survive? It is very likely that Karim is one of them.
Back to the issue of recruitment. If the 9 jihadist can recruit 10 in a year, that means 90 new jihadist by the middle of 2018! Assuming only 50% of the new recruits will recruit for more, that means 45 x 10 or 450 by the middle of 2019!
What if the 95 contemporaries of Karim will just recruit 5 each? That means 475 in the first year and probably 2,375 by the middle of 2019! This is not far to be true as this had happened in the case of the Maute Group and the Abu Sayaff in the last 2 to 3 years. Many of them were said to be killed in Butig and in Piagapo or in Basilan and Sulu but they were still able to muster at least 500 when they siege Marawi.
After having my quick computation, I came to think of my friend's joke and warning:
"Nasugdan na man, wala ta mahimo, mag-andam na ta... Muslim ug Christian ... kita tanan biktima. Tabla!" That warming may have some grain of truth. Scary but what can we do?
I told to myself, I just pray hard that none of Kiram's 95 other comrades will fulfill the mission given to them by their senior leaders who may have died or are about to die in Marawi.
Perhaps the national government, the ARMM government and the local governments in Lanao del Sur and in Mindanao should also do something.
Opps... OMG... I think I forget to include them in my prayers. I think I should.http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/news/specialreports/617550/deception-and-regret-the-story-of-a-maute-child-warrior/story/