QUEZON CITY (MindaNews / 31 October) — Salahuddin Hassan, the leader of the so-called Dawlah Islamiyah (DI)-Philippines or Islamic State in the Philippines, was killed on Friday during a firefight with police and the military in Talayan, Maguindanao. According to Maj. Gen. Juvymax Uy, Hassan had been involved in bombings and extortion activities. His wife, Jehana Mimbida, was also killed in the operation, according to the news. She was allegedly the group’s finance officer.
Vice President Leni Robredo immediately expressed her gratitude and congratulations for the “bravery of the Army, which ensured that Hassan, the instigator of the bombings in Maguindanao, North Cotabato, and Sultan Kudarat, was held accountable.”
The neutralization of Hassan and his wife are welcome news, as fears of renewed violent extremist activities rise with the victory of the Taliban. However, we still have to worry about the repercussions. Will the remaining followers of DI retaliate with more attacks? Are we more prepared to prevent the resurgence of terrorism?
True, the Philippines has officially adopted a National Action Plan on Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism (NAP PCVE) in July 2019, to be implemented by the Department of the Interior and Local Government. True, the Plan calls for a whole-of-society approach, working with non-state actors like religious leaders to counter the lure counter of terrorist groups that distort the teachings of Islam to radicalize youth. However, I haven’t really seen viable programs at the community level. There are many, many training programs. But the trainees are the same people, invited over and over again. DILG has cited, as an accomplishment, the development of 75,000 brochures and 15,000 posters distributed to identified priority areas.
Has the security sector bothered to do the research and analysis necessary to develop effective programs, to work with civil society organizations that actually have track records in prevention and deradicalization? Have we analyzed the factors that have driven women – such as Jehana Mimbida and Farhana Maute (mother and financier of the Maute brothers who held off government forces for five months in Marawi)?
We know that women – and youth – have been indoctrinated and recruited through family ties (including marriage to terrorists), continuing perception of persecution and oppression, discrimination, poverty, injustice, the killing of close relatives. Have these been factored into the NAP C/PVE? For instance, is our justice system working in the conflict-affected areas to ensure that justice is served? The perception of justice denied only works to make families and communities feel oppressed, making them easy prey for recruitment into extremism.
This week’s podcast on She Talks Peace looks into women and youth in the Deep South of Thailand. Dr. Amporn Marddent of Thailand discusses the “deep resentment” felt by the Southern Thailand Muslims and how the issues are addressed, based on the research she has conducted. Over 7,000 have died and the quality of life of the women has deteriorated because women’s security perspectives have not been factored into the government’s anti-terrorism strategy.
VP Robredo, a lawyer and longtime women’s right advocate (she founded the Lakas ng Kababaihan ng Naga Federation in 1989) should be sensitive to the need to incorporate women, peace and security concerns into government’s NAP C/PVE.
Malaysia’s Altaf Deviyati has looked into the rise of tom yam shops in Malaysian states bordering Thailand and the influx of young Muslim Thais, most of whom are illegal migrants and don’t integrate well into the community. The security implications are of concern to the Malaysian government. If these young Thai Muslims left their homes because of oppression and discrimination, are they easy recruits for extremism?
Listen to Amporn and Altaf’s experiences on She Talks Peace
(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Amina Rasul is the President of the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy, an advocate for Mindanao and the Bangsamoro, peace, human rights and democracy)