MEMBERS of Ghuraba, a local jihadist group in Lanao del Sur, have declared that an Islamic caliphate or Khilafah Islamiyah has been established in the country and has started fulfilling its mission of propagating its doctrines and beliefs.
Ghuraba is Arabic for strangers or foreigners.
“The Islamic caliphate has just begun,” said a member of Ghuraba at their secret and members-only group at the social networking site Facebook.
He was referring to the Khilafah governance that was last seen during the Ottoman Empire in Turkey.
The group’s recent declaration was in contrast to claims of Philippine authorities that aside from occasional proclamations of several militant groups in Mindanao, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has not yet established its presence in the country.
Sources said Ghuraba is working to establish an Islamic Caliphate in the country and is headed by a certain Humam Abdul Najid, leader of the upstart Khilafah Islamiyah Mindanao-Black Flag Movement (KIM-BFM).
According to the same sources, the group was responsible for several violent criminal activities in Mindanao, including the killing of American Michael Alan Turner in Cagayan de Oro City on February 17, 2013.
Ghuraba is also known in the United Kingdom, Pakistan and Indonesia.
Meanwhile, local leaders in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) continued to deny the presence of ISIS-like groups in Mindanao.
ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman and ARMM police regional director Chief Supt. Noel delos Reyes earlier dismissed as “hearsay” reports about recruitments by the ISIS.
Even the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) denied the existence of such groups but warned about their virus-like ideology that could contaminate disgruntled Muslims in Mindanao.
Reports indicated that Muslim cleric Jamil “Mutawwa” Yahya, who is based in Marawi City, has been very vocal in declaring to his followers his strong support to the ISIS.
On Saturday, during a congregational prayer for Eid’l Adha or Feast of the Sacrifice, Yahya professed his loyalty to ISIS and even challenged the military and the police to arrest him.
Reportedly the organizer of the gathering in Marawi City, he confirmed the mass convergence.
“It is not only 100 who made the bai’ah but hundreds, old men, youth, women, even young children. There are still many who wish to make the pledge,” Yahya was quoted as saying.
These developments came after other radical terrorist groups undertook their bai-ah or pledge of allegiance to the caliphate of the ISIS.
A recent video uploaded in YouTube by a group Ansarol Khilafah on September 8, showed 20 masked men holding high-powered weapons led by Abdul Basit Usman.
Usman, an ethnic Maguindanaoan and bomb expert with links to the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and the Southeast Asian terror organization Jema’ah Islamiyah (JI), has a $1 million reward on his head.
He was earlier reported killed by an American drone attack in Pakistan but that report turned out to be false.
Aside from the ASG and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), the Rajah Solaiman Movement (RSM) has also pledged loyalty to ISIS.
In Marawi City, the influence of the ISIS is reportedly having a positive impact on local business especially among vendors selling pirated digital-video-discs (DVDs) in public markets.
A vendor said they have now reached “Series 8” of their best selling DVDs that feature the gathering in Masjid Islamic Center with Yahya’s followers. Reports from television were also included in the videos.
The videos show footage of the ISIS’s mujahideen [soldiers of Islam] in Iraq and Syria, including mass killing of infidels or apostates who allegedly betrayed the ISIS, with some portions aimed at indoctrinating the viewers.
Aside from DVDs, pamphlets and e-books are being freely distributed to select local civilians containing the extreme ideology authored by al-Qaedah clerics Osama Bin Laden, Anwar Awlaki, Hambali who are all advocating and calling for global jihad (holy war).