MILF perplexed at way Maute Group is fighting military

ILIGAN CITY — The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), a 40-year veteran of separatist insurgency in Mindanao, is perplexed at the Islamic State (IS)-inspired Maute terrorist group fighting the government head-on.

In a statement posted on its official website, the MILF said on Sunday the Maute Group was “defying the logic of war.”

Guerrilla warfare

“A weak party can only fight a strong party through a highly mobile warfare … If the MILF has managed to stay alive and kicking to this day, it is because of the early realization that a weak party can never fight a [strong] party effectively, except by using various guerrilla warfare, including psychological war operation,” the MILF said.

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Styling itself as a local branch of the IS jihadist group in Iraq and Syria, the Maute group, backed by the Abu Sayyaf faction led by Isnilon Hapilon, rampaged through Marawi on May 23 and seized parts of a city in a bid to establish an IS enclave in Southeast Asia.

The MILF dismissed that goal as “more in the mind rather than an immediate possibility.”

Martyrdom

It said the Maute terrorists’ “apparent wish or love [of] martyrdom” prevented them from pursuing guerrilla warfare as a means to advance their cause.

“It is their belief or obsession that martyrdom brings them direct to heaven … This perhaps explained their almost stationary style of fighting, especially during the early part of the siege of Marawi City,” the MILF said.

Prior to signing a peace deal with the government, the MILF fought four major wars with the military, the longest of which was in 2000, lasting some five months and concluding with the capture of its main camp in Maguindanao.

At the time the peace agreement was signed in 2014, the MILF had an estimated 12,000 fully armed fighters.

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