ANOTHER member of the Abu Sayyaf group that infiltrated Inabanga, Bohol weeks ago has been “neutralized,” to use a military lingo—not necessarily killed but arrested. The man, reportedly carrying a hand gun and a handgrenade, was arrested in Tubigon town while he was being fed by the owner of a house where he asked for food and clothes. The house owner called the elements of the 41st Infantry Brigade.
The report, as of this writing, is actually skill sketchy but granting that the suspect, identified as Saad Samad Kiram, is really part of the Inabanga group. Then we will finally be given a better view of what the terrorist group was planning to do in Inabanga, where they were eventually intercepted by government troops. Seven of Kiram’s companions have been killed in two clashes with the police and military.
And even as we try to dig deeper on this security breach in Bohol and Central Visayas and learn from it, the Abus may also have learned from the recklessness of its action. In a way, Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 Chief Noli Talino was right: what they did was suicide considering their lack of mass base in Bohol. On this, the Abus should have taken a page from the New People’s Army, which lives and dies by the mass base.
And if the Abus learn from this episode, then we better be prepared for the group’s possible shift in strategy. The next time, they may send unarmed organizers in Bohol or in Cebu to recruit members from among the Muslim population in the region or via the so-called “balik-Islam” strategy of recruiting Christians to their fold, one that has been effectively done by the so-called Rajah Soliman group.
We should not wallow in the thought that just because the Inabanga caper filed, terrorist groups, whether the Abu Sayyaf kind or others, would already shy away from our shores. Some members of these terrorist groups are imbued with fanaticism and are therefore determined. It would be wrong to take their threats lightly.
Government and the people’s success in thwarting the attempt of the Abu Sayyaf to infiltrate Central Visayas should not encourage complacency but should instead prod us to double our vigilance.
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on May 05, 2017.
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