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Syrian rebels funded Filipino Muslims to join ISIS—MNLF

SYRIAN militants had recruited and funded Filipino Muslim rebels to wage war alongside Islamic State forces in Syria, which was the same scheme employed by Libya with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MNLF) during the Mindanao rebellion in the 1920s, MNLF spokesman Absalom Cerveza said in refuting the military’s claim.

Cerveza said a financier from Syria, probably from opposition militants, has facilitated the funding and recruitment of Filipino rebels to fight in the war-torn country.

“It would be hard for somebody recruiting or entice people to go to war without any financial consideration,” Cerveza said.

 “They are there for the money,” Cerveza said, hinting that the funding was either in the form of cash brought by an agent or coursed through remittance.

At least 200 members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) claimed by the rebel faction had been reportedly dispatched to help ISIS fight Syrian government forces, a claim that the military repeatedly denied.

Cerveza said the same tactic was used by the late Libyan President Muammar Muhammad Khadaffy, who provided funds to MNLF founding Chairman Nur Misuari during the dark days of the Mindanao rebellion in the 70s.

Aside from Libya which also shipped in high powered firearms to Mindanao using the Malaysian sea lanes via Sabah, Malaysia also provided assistance to the MNLF in the form of military training to the rebels.

Cerveza said that Syrian rebels may have recruited Filipino Overseas Workers (OFWs) in the Middle East as mercenaries to the conflict zone in Syria.

“They (mercenaries and Filipinos) may have lured by the huge monetary or financial considerations for their services rendered to the ISIS,” Cerveza said.

“In the 1970s, Libya through its diplomat, also sent cash to MNLF and it is possible that a financier from the Syria’s underground movement have provided financing to the Filipino rebels,” he added.

When asked on the possibility that additional Filipinos would be sent out to Syria, Cerveza said “if they are winning or gaining ground, additional forces might be needed.”

On Monday, the military refused to say anything on the matter without a more concrete proof.

“We don’t to speculate until we have basis to say that,” Armed Forces Spokesman Major Gen, Sonny Tutaan said. All information is still being verified.

But Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said the reports on the recruitment, even in Davao, may have some truth into it.

“I am concerned. I am not condemning anybody here. I feel sad for those who go there. They probably feel it’s alright,” Duterte said. But the only reports we’ve received said that there will some (who will be) sent there,” said Duterte as e expressed alarm over reports that another batch from the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters had pledge allegiance to ISIS.

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