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[This article was published in the 23rd issue of Nida'ul Islam
magazine (http://www.islam.org.au), April - May 1998]


MILF Leader to "Nida'ul Islam":
"Perhaps the Moro struggle for freedom and self-determination is the longest and bloodiest in the entire history of mankind"

The Philippines has inherited and developed a deep hatred against Islam and the Muslim people. After annexing the Bangsamoro homeland, a systematic design to liquidate Islam and to destroy the Islamic identity of the Bangsamoro Muslims was launched. The MILF led up a program to be implemented phase by phase in twenty years (from 1981-2000). This program covers all aspects of "Jihad in the way of Allah" and human endeavors

Bio-data of Sheikh Salamat Hashim

Salamat Hashim was born on 7th July, 1942 in the Municipality of Pagalungan, Maguindano. He comes from a religious family of seven..

Salamat's first teacher was his mother. It was through her tutorship and guidance that at the age of six he could read the Holy Qur'an and memorised many of its verses.

At the age of six he started formal education, finishing his elementary education in 1954 with honours and his secondary education in 1958 also with honours.

In 1958, Salamat joined the pilgrims from the Philippines for Hajj. He took this opportunity to stay behind and study in Makkah under the care of Sheikh Zawawi. He attended regularly the halaqat held at the Masjid al Haram and enrolled at the Madrasat as-Sulatiyah ad-Diniyah.

In 1959, he went to Cairo, which at that time was the centre of political activism in the Middle East. There, he enrolled at Al-Azhar University. He graduated from al-Azhar's Ma'had al-Buhuth al-Islamiyyah as-Sanawiyyah in 1963, then enrolling at al-Azhar's college of Theology for a bachelor's degree program majoring in Aqeedah and Philosophy and graduated in 1967. Pursuing his scholastic inclination further, he took up his postgraduate courses in the same university and finished his master's degree in 1969. He completed the academic requirements for a doctoral degree, but was unable to write his dissertation because he had to return to the Philippines by then to organise the Moro revolutionary movement.

Salamat was an active student leader. His active participation to different student activities exposed him to various revolutionary trends, both Islamic and Secular, which Cairo was known for at that period. This exposure brought him awareness of the colonial oppression his Muslim brothers and sisters were suffering back home, an awareness which gradually transformed him from a scholar to an Islamic revolutionary.

Among the student organisations he took part in are the Philippine Muslim Student Association and the Organisation of Asian Students in Cairo. He was elected President of the former and Secretary-General of the latter.

While in Cairo, he clandestinely organised a core group among the Bangsamoro Muslim students who planned the Bangsamoro revolution in the early sixties. To finance their early activities, each member contributed half of his meager allowance to a common fund.

It is interesting to note that amongst the revolutionary Muslim thinkers who influenced Salamat, two Muslim personalities made a lasting impression on him: Syed Qutb and Syed Abul A'la Maududi. It was, however, Syed Qutb's writings which shaped his Islamic outlook and political beliefs. The impact that Syed Qutb and Maududi made on him was what inspired him to plant the seeds of Islamic revolution in the Bangsamoro homeland.

Known but to a few, Salamat was the one responsible for covertly arranging the military training of the first batch of cadres (Batch 90) that was to become the military core group of the Moro National Liberation Front. Working with a prominent political leader, he laid the groundwork for the organisation of the Bangsamoro armed struggle.



What is the Sheikh's organisational role in the MILF?
Name: Salamat Hashim.

Amir of the Bangsamoro Mujahideen and Chairman of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Would you please give us a brief outline of the Moro Islamic Front?
Brief Account on the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF):

a) Background:

The MILF is the vanguard of the Islamic movement in the Bangsamoro homeland in Mindanao and the neighbouring islands.

Its emergence is the crystallisation of the widespread animosity and deep-rooted displeasure of the Bangsamoro people vis--vis the illegal and immoral usurpation of their freedom and self-determination.

The Bangsamoro territory, which is the ancestral homeland of the Bangsamoro Muslims, was illegally and immorally annexed when the United States of America granted the Philippines independence in July 4, 1946.

The MILF is the realisation of the ideas, efforts and sacrifices of Bangsamoro students in the Middle East who banded together and clandestinely organised themselves in 1962. Those students were kindled and unified by the common feelings concerning the usurpation of their legitimate and inalienable rights to freedom and self-determination, and that the usurption of Moro land was a plot against Islam and the Muslim people in the area. Furthermore it was a wanton design to destroy their identity and to liquidate them. Those students urged their counterparts in the Bangsamoro homeland and the Bangsamoro people in general to return to the fold of Islam and fight against the aggressors. They exhorted them to follow the path of Allah and launch Jihad in the Way of Allah. <

b) Methodology

The methodology of the MILF is complete submission to the Will of Allah. This is manifested and crystallised in the verse number 56, Surah 5: "I have only created Jinn and Man that they may serve Me."

The MILF makes sure that all its policies and activities are in conformity with the teachings of the Qur'an and Sunnah and its members and followers adapt a system of life in accordance with the teachings of Islam.

c) Objectives
To make supreme the Word of Allah
To gain the pleasure of Allah
To strengthen the relationship of man with his Creator
To strengthen the relationship of man and man
To regain the illegally and immorally usurped legitimate and inalienable rights of the Bangsamoro people to freedom and self-determination
To establish an independent state and government and implement Shari'ah (Islamic Law).

d) Magnitude and Strength

The great majority of the Bangsamoro Muslims sympathise with and support the MILF.

However, there is no reliable statistics on the number of the Bangsamoro Muslim population in the area due to the usual distortion of facts about the Muslims by the government.

Sometimes they say more than two million. In some occasions they say more than four million. This was the number of Muslims in the area more than twenty years ago. Our rough estimate is about eight million or more, and 85% actively support the MILF, and the rest, with exception of about one percent, sympathise with the Islamic Front.

About 90% of the Bangsamoro Muslims supporting the MILF aged between 16-60 were trained in combat and arms handling and are therefore warriors and combatants.

How can we differentiate between the Moro National Front and the Moro Islamic Front?
If you look at the ideology and way of life adopted by each of the two fronts you will see the great difference. The MILF adopts the Islamic ideology and way of life. Furthermore, the Islamic Front believes in the Islamic concept of state and government. In contrast to this, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) is more inclined to secularism.

At present, the most distinct difference is that the MNLF recognised the Philippine Constitution and works under the Philippine government, whilst the MILF does not recognise the constitution of the Philippines and fights against the government.

What are the motives behind the Bangsamoro Muslims' uprising which started 30 years ago?
The main reason behind the struggle of the Bangsamoro Muslims is the illegal usurpation of their legitimate rights for freedom and self-determination. The Bangsamoro Muslims are the native inhabitants of the islands of Mindanao, Basilan Sulu and Palawan. They were independent hundreds of years before the creation of the Philippines by Spain and the USA, her colonial masters. With the help of the latter the newly created imperialist puppet succeeded in her plot to annex the Bangsamoro homeland when she was granted independence by the USA in 1946.

It is worthwhile mentioning that the Philippines has inherited and developed a deep hatred against Islam and the Muslim people. After annexing the Bangsamoro homeland, a systematic design to liquidate Islam and to desthe Islamic identity of the Bangsamoro Muslims was launched. The following are some of the methods used in the genocide:
Grabbing Muslim lands
Establishment of Christian settlements
Individual and group migration from Luzon and Visayas to the Bangsamoro homeland
Systematic killing of individual Muslims
Group or mass massacres of Muslims including women, children and the aged
Burning Muslim houses, Mosques, Madrasas (Islamic schools), taking livestock for food or selling, and the destruction of Muslim farms and orchards.

To make such a wanton design more destructive, the government exploited the natural resources of the Bangsamoro homeland to deprive them of such natural and God-given wealth.

The Moro National Front signed a peace treaty with the government of Manila, can you explain the reasons for your opposition to such a treaty? Have your concerns been justified after the full or partial implementation of the treaty? And what was the fate of the Tripoli agreement which gives the Muslim people the right of autonomy?
The MILF did not recognise the so-called peace agreement between the Government of the Republic of the Philippine and the MNLF for the following reasons:

The agreement considered side issues only and never touched the core of the Bangsamoro problem which is the illegal and immoral usurpation of their ancestral homeland and the barbarous usurpation of their legitimate rights to freedom and self determination.
The agreement is devoid of justice and freedom for the Bangsamoro people and peace without justice and freedom for the aggrieved party is another form of colonial oppression.
The agreement is a solution to the problem of the GRP only but not the Bangsamoro problem.
The GRP-MNLF agreement is a violation of the Tripoli Agreement which is now nowhere due to that agreement. The MILF expected that the GRP-MNLF agreement concluded last year will be a total failure and that expectation is now a reality. In fact, a top MNLF officer said: "the outcome of he GRP-MNLF agreement is a double zero" because it did not solve Bangsamoro problem and caused the abandonment and total failure of the Tripoli Agreement.

The Filipino government is carrying out an intensive media onslaught which accuses the Mujahideen with crimes against the Filipino people, what is your response to this?
The accusation is entirely baseless and categorically not true. It is a black propaganda against Islam and its followers and a brazen lie which aims at inverting the issue.

The Bangsamoro Mujahideen are strictly following the teachings of Islam. As such, they do not commit any crime. The Philippine authorities are the ones committing crimes against the Bangsamoro people and even the Filipino people whom they are supposed to be serving are not spared.

Can you explain in detail the ugly massacres that were carried out by the Filipino army and by its partisan militias against the Moro Muslims?
Perhaps hundreds of pages will be needed to write the inhumane atrocities and heinous crimes and massacres perpetrated by the barbarous Armed Forces of the Philippines and its militia against the Bangsamoro Muslims. One example is the notorious Manili Massacre where seventy nine Muslim men and women were killed at point-blank range inside a mosque. Besides this is that barbarous Tacub massacre where sixty innocent Muslims were ordered by a unit of the AFP to lie down then shot at them until they were all killed. There is the infamous Colongcolong massacre where more than seven hundred Muslims, men and women including children, were massacred by the barbaric Armed Forces of the Philippines. There is also the New Pasi massacre of nineteen innocent Muslims and the Tago-ig massacre of ten school girls plus their teacher.

Moreover, hundreds of thousands of Muslim houses, mosques and Islamic schools were deliberately burned by Philippine authorities. In addition, their farms, orchards and other sources of livelihood were destroyed by the AFP and its militia. In short, a genocidal war is being launched against the Muslims.

How do these delinquent practices reflect upon the Muslims' subsistence and the need for immigration in lieu from the violence of terrorists and their agents?
The barbarous massacres and heinous crimes perpetuated by the Government of the Philippines against the Bangsamoro people have a serious repercussion in their life. It caused them untold hardship, indescribable poverty and an unfortunate situation.

Which parts of the Moro Islands have so far been liberated? How does the Front manage its affairs with the lack of financial support?
The Liberated areas in the Bangsamoro homeland is less than one fifth of the previously independent Muslim areas. These areas are mostly in the countryside and highland covered by thick jungles.

Why does the MILF continue to negotiate with the Filipino government who as you know conceal ill intentions?
Many people in the world do not know the ill-will and bad intentions of the Government of the Philippines towards the Bangsamoro people. We hope that during the process of the negotiations her deceptive design will be exposed.

What are the latest military and security developments in the Moro Islands?
Throughout the last month of Ramadhan corresponding to the month of January 1998, there were heavy armed engagements between the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) and the AFP.

The most fierce encounters between the two armed forces took place in the provinces of Basilan, Zamboanga del norte, Zambaona del sur and in Buldon and Datu Piang in the province of Maguindanao. Enemy forces suffered casualties in terms of lives and equipment: fifty seven soldiers were killed including three high ranking officers and three battle tanks were destroyed. The Bangsamoro Mujahideen captured thirteen assorted firearms.

During the month of February 1998, exchange of artillery fire between the two warring parties continued. From the first week of this month (March 1998), fighting erupted at the demarcation lines between the two forces. And to this date, sporadic armed encounters occur in different areas. In short the Bangsamoro region is in a state of war and nothing can stop this war except the realisation of the Bangsamoro people's objectives.

What are the plans of the MILF on all domains (military, livelihood, security and education)?
The MILF led up a program to be implemented phase by phase in twenty years (from 1981-2000). This program covers all aspects of "Jihad in the way of Allah" and human endeavors, but it gives special attention to the following:

  • Islamisation of all aspects of life of the Bangsamoro people
  • Military build-up
  • Self-reliance
  • Strengthening and improvement of organisational, administrative and managerial capability.
  • Before the 20-years program expires in the year 2000, the MILF had already planned a new 50-year program which will start in 2001 and end in 2050. The plan was approved during the 15th General Assembly of the Moro Islamic Liberation front in Camp Bushra on December 15-17, 1997.

    The new program will continue the previous tasks but will give special attention to the following:
    To establish justice
    To ensure full freedom and respect of human rights
    To overcome criminalities, poverty, ignorance and sickness
    To ensure equal opportunity and equal rights to earn and live honourably
    To ensure the establishment of equal rights
    To overcome grafts and corruption and exploitation of public properties for personal interest
    To undertake proper measures to solve social problems.

    How do you view the role of the Muslim communities in supporting the Jihad in Islamic Moro Islands?
    The support of the Muslim Ummah all over the world to the Bangsamoro cause is very vital and much needed. Perhaps the Bangsamoro struggle for freedom and self-determination is the longest and bloodiest in the entire history of mankind. It started in 1521 when Spain invaded the Bangsamoro homeland 29 years after the fall of Andalosia. The Bangsamoro people fought against the Spanish invaders for 377 years and against American intruders for about 40 years and have been fighting Filipino barbarous colonial rule during the past 52 year.

    In short, the Bangsamoro people fought for 469 years to preserve their Islamic faith and identity and to defend their legitimate rights to freedom and self-determination. They have no one to ask for help except Almighty Allah and then the Muslim Ummah, their brothers in faith.

    Do you have a final word to address your brothers around the world?
    We in the MILF would like to take this opportunity to inform the Muslim Ummah through your magazine about the predicament of the Bangsamoro Muslims here in this part of the world.

    Islam made its foundation here in about the year 1310 CE, and independent Islamic principalities were established in the beginning of the 15th century. After one hundred years of Islamic grandeur in this part of the globe, the blooming Islamic states were invaded by foreign intruders. Since then and until now, the Bangsamoro Muslims were still fighting to preserve their Islamic identity and regain their usurped freedom and independence.

    Hence we are calling upon the Muslim Ummah all over the world to stand by our side and give the Bangsamoro Muslims moral, spiritual and material support.

    Allah will surely compensate and reward you here in this world and in the Hereafter.