COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/ 24 December) – Two self-confessed recruits of an Islamic State-inspired group called Dawlah Islamiyah Cotabato that is said to have built a cell in the city surrendered to authorities on Sunday and vowed to cooperate to prevent further violence.
The alleged militants, a 24-year old woman and a 21-year old male neighbor, surrendered accompanied by their parents and relatives to reveal what they know about the group.
Alias Bai and Alias Datu admitted they were part of Dawlah Islamiyah Cotabato (Islamic State of Cotabato).
Bai said the group lured her into joining through its outreach programs for children and Muslim orphans three years ago.
Reporters asked if the two surrenderers were involved in the nigh market bombing in Davao City two years ago and in the Marawi siege last year.
But Joint Task Force Kutawato commander Col. Wilbur Mamawag said they could not give yet the full details about the surrenderers, who were still undergoing custodial investigation.
He added they will try to convince more members of the group to surrender.
The task force will secure the surrenderers amid threats of retaliation and make them undergo a de-radicalization process.
Datu, who was a graduating student at the time he was recruited, regretted his decision as he was forced to stop his studies and could not find a decent work to help his family after he joined the group.
Bai and Datu said the group recruited n their village and in schools targeting young Muslims.
Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi, head of the inter-agency task force of Cotabato City said the Dawlah Islamiyah Cotabato has at least 300 active youth members.
She said it took them a year to convince Bai and Datu to surrender amid their parents’ fear they might be killed by government forces.
“They were really involved and they’re here to voluntarily surrender, which is better than hiding not knowing what would happen while the arrest warrants are still subsisting until now,” she said.
The two surrenderers’ names were included in the martial law order released by the defense secretary.
Information gathered by military intelligence units said Bai and Datu were among those brought to the mountainous part of Barangay Butril, Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat for a supposed religious mission.
But they ended up in a combat training ground of ISIS-linked Ansar Al Khilafah led by slain leader Commander Tokboy.
In 2015, the 1st Marine Landing Team led the raid on the training ground which killed seven of Tokboy’s men including foreign nationals believed to be Malaysian and Indonesian bombers. (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera/MindaNews)