SolGen's list of 'ISIS cell groups' inaccurate, says expert


Posted at Jun 20 2017 12:55 PM

MANILA - A security analyst is worried about the government's intelligence assessments on terrorists in the country, pointing out what he believes are inaccuracies in a list of Islamic State or ISIS-linked groups in Mindanao.

Prof. Rommel Banlaoi, chairman of the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research, said one major problem in the list of "ISIS cell groups" given by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) to the Supreme Court is the inclusion of a "Balik Islam Group."

"There is no such thing as a Balik Islam Group. This is a general term used to describe all Muslim converts in the Philippines. Majority of the Balik Islam people in the Philippines are moderate, peace-loving, tolerant and democratic," he told ANC on Tuesday.

Banlaoi said including Balik Islam Group on the list, which was submitted by the OSG to the Supreme Court as part of its memorandum on the petitions against martial law in Mindanao, is unjust.

The professor also pointed out "double entries" on the list, such as the Rajah Solaiman Islamic Movement, a group that is no longer active. He said the Rajah Solaiman group has changed its name into Syuful Khilafa Fi Luzon.

"Members of the Syuful Khilafa Fi Luzon are in fact remnants of the Rajah Solaiman Movement, who are in fact Muslim converts who have been radicalized and now embracing the ideology of ISIS," he said.

Banlaoi also said the Al Harakatul Islamiyah is the original name of the Abu Sayyaf Group but they are listed as two separate entries in the memo by the OSG.

He said the OSG should clarify and put into context the nuances of these groups.

"If this list is based on intelligence sources, then I am very, very worried on the way we gather intelligence information. We need to rectify and put into proper context the nuances of these groups," he said.

Also included in the list of the OSG are the following groups:

-- Ansar Dawiah Fi Filibbin,
-- Jama’at Ansar Khilafa,
-- Ansharul Khilafah Philippines Battalion,
-- Bangsamoro Justice Movement,
-- Khilafah Islamiya Mindanao,
-- Ma’rakah Al-Ansar Battalion,
-- Dawla Islamiyyah Cotabato,
-- Dawlat Al Islamiyah Waliyatul Masrik,
-- Ansar Al-Shariyah Battalion,
-- Jamaah al-Tawhid wal Jihad Philippines,
-- Abu Dujanah Battalion,
-- Abu Khubayn Battalion,
-- Jundallah Battalion,
-- Abu Sadr Battalion,
-- Jamaah Al Muhajirin wal Anshor.

Banlaoi also clarified that some of the groups included in the OSG's list are not "sleeper cells" but "active groups."

He added that members of most of these groups are a combination of local and international terrorists.