Our worst nightmare

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014


ARE jihadist terrorists in our midst? Last week, Col. Jon Aying, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, alerted the Muslim communities in Negros Occidental on the entry in the province of these dangerous elements from Mindanao.

The local Islamic community leaders said they sent their Muslim brothers with questionable backgrounds packing back to Mindanao. In other words, these visitors might have other agenda in mind.

I remember the stories from my father and grandfather that Japanese gardeners or general store clerks in pre-war days during the Commonwealth turned out to be high-ranking Japanese intelligence officers in disguise, affirmed the book Spies for Nippon.

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We could have jihadist sleeper cells of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) in our midst. Or am I being an alarmist? Well, for one thing, ISIS has established a caliphate, calling itself the Islamic State in the vast stretches of the Middle East that have fallen under its control, and has outlined a vision to expand into Europe.

It's Sunni militants -- whose brutality in attempting to establish control in Iraq and Syria has been branded too extreme even by Al Qaeda -- has demanded allegiance from Muslims worldwide. In response, the Abu Sayyaf and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters pledged their allegiance to ISIS.

To be sure, majority of Muslims are not biting. But that's not to say none are biting. Last July, Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams with Australian Federal Police took into custody Australian Robert "Musa" Cerantonio, a Muslim convert, in his Cebu apartment.

"(Cerantonio) has been recruiting Filipino Muslims to fight in Iraq and Syria," said a senior police intelligence official. "He has been literally calling for jihad. But we're still validating reports that some Filipino Muslims have responded to his call to arms."

The PNP said Cerantonio came to the Philippines early this year and began recruiting for ISIS. He also traveled to Basilan and Sulu in the country's south, preaching radical Islam to support Syria and Iraq.

A study conducted in early 2014 by the International Centre for the Study of Radicalization found that one in four foreign fighters followed Cerantonio's Twitter account and his Facebook page is the third-most "liked" among jihadists.

On the other hand, Habib Mujahab Hashim, chief of the MNLF's Islamic Command Council, said they heard about the reported presence of Sunni preachers allegedly conducting recruitment for ISIS members. Last month, former President Fidel Ramos said that 100 young Filipino Muslims traveled to Iraq to train with the ISIS.

The international stories sound like a prequel to a world war. Mind you, ISIS thinks not in terms of the Middle East alone. No less than Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz warned that the threat of terrorism will reach Europe and the USA if the world does not unite to confront it.

What would life be under ISIS? The UN's Independent International Commission of Inquiry has accused ISIS of crimes under humanity: "Widespread and systematic attacks on the civilian population. In areas of Syria under its control, particularly in the north and northeast of the country, Fridays are regularly marked by executions, amputations and lashings in public squares... Bodies of those killed are placed on display for several days, terrorizing the local population. Women have been lashed for not abiding by ISIS's dress code.

Obviously, this is not a call to fight Muslims but to oppose terrorism of the ISIS stripe. The terrorist proto-state vows to punish and eliminate all the "kuffars (infidels) and the apostates." The kuffars are of course the non-Muslims, and the "apostates," the non-ISIS Muslims.

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. Better that the peace-loving Negrenses and the entire Filipinos unite with our police and the army to ferret out these terrorists than to wake up with our worst nightmare becoming reality.

(bqsanc@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on September 03, 2014.

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