COTABATO CITY – Islamic State militants have threatened ulama or Islamic scholars who attended a recent anti-terrorism summit in Cotabato City in southern Philippines, officials said.
Officials said local militants, who are members of the Dawlah Islamiya, tried to prevent ulama and religious leaders from attending the summit conducted by the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in an effort to curb or combat terrorism.
“To those who have Ulama relatives, warn your parents, brothers, and children not to attend the said summit because if something happens to them along the way or in the end, don't tell us you were not warned,” a statement released by the Dawlah Islamiya said.
Secretary Noor Hafizullah Abdullah, ARMM’s Interior Secretary, confirmed the threat, but said the summit held from May 12-14 was a big success with hundreds of ulama and religious leaders and other stake holders attended the event.
Abdullah said because of the threat they are now seriously considering holding more anti-terrorism and anti-illegal drugs forums and summits in 5 provinces under the autonomous region. He said the summit is an initial step of the ARMM government to enlist the support of Islamic scholars to combat terrorism.
“The decision to bring down the issue at the local government level came after the Dawlah Islamiya, which has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, issued a statement threatening the ulama who recently attended the three-day summit against terrorism in Cotabato City,” Abdullah said.
He said that ARMM’s 116 municipalities and two cities - Lamitan and Marawi - will soon conduct summit against terrorism and illegal drugs to prevent and combat the rising threats of terrorism, as well as to strengthen the role of the local governments in promoting peace and security. “The summit would synchronize measures on how to restrain criminality, terrorism and illegal drugs, which affect the peace and order situation in the region. The local governments must be at the forefront of this battle and must have a major role in combating terrorism. The summit will help confront terrorism and extremism at the municipal level,” Abdullah said.
He said the local governments play a vital role in the fight against terrorism and illegal drugs because local chief executives and officials could help prevent violence in their respective areas.
“With close coordination, mutual support and cooperation at all times can help put an end to terrorism. I can see that the local governments in the region are very active in this fight in order to have peaceful and progressive communities. Liliit ang mundo ng mga teroristang grupo kapag nakita nila na lahat ay nagtutulungan to fight terror acts,” Abdullah said.
For his part, ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman said: “Islamic scholars can contribute largely to the advocacy against terrorism by educating people about the true teachings of Islam, most especially on the principles of justice, compassion, peace, and harmony. The national government considers terrorism as an urgent and critical national security threat.” (Mindanao Examiner)
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