The History of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front

by Brian Gabriel
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front is located in the southern Philippines.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front is located in the southern Philippines.

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The Moro Islamic Liberation Front is a Philippines-based rebel group made up of local Moro Muslims. Muslims in the Philippines gained the name “Moro” from the Spanish who ruled over the country and referred to them as “Moors.” Moro Muslims have been fighting with the Philippines government since the 1960s at a cost of an estimated 120,000 people killed. The Philippine government signed a peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in 2012.

Jabidah Massacre

The Jabidah Massacre, sometimes called the Corregidor Massacre, was a massacre of Muslims by the Philippine government that took place on March 18, 1968. The incident revolved around the territory of Sabah, which was disputed territory between Malaysia and the Philippines. President Marcos of the Philippines planned a guerrilla-type operation against the Muslims of Malyasia by training local Philippine Muslims to fight. After their soldiers refused to fight against their fellow Muslims, the government of the Philippines slaughtered Muslims in a massacre that was officially acknowledged by the government for the first time in 2013.

Formation of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front was officially formed in 1977 after breaking off from the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), which had been fighting the government since the 1960s. Hashim Salamat led the break from the Moro National Liberation Front, which he believed had emphasized Marxist-Maoist principles at the expense of Islamic principles. Under the leadership of Salamat, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front was created with the objective of liberating Mindanao and surrounding islands from the government and forming them into an independent Islamic state in the southern Philippines.

Tactics

According to the Institute for the Study of Violent Groups, tactics used by Moro Islamic Liberation Front members include high-profile kidnappings and ambushing government security forces. Some members have participated in terrorist activities, such as the bombing of civilian populations, in retaliation for the government violating their ceasefire agreements. The Moro Islamic Liberation Front has an estimated 15,000 members today.

Peace Agreement

The Philippine government reached a preliminary peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front on October 7, 2012. The agreement allows for an independent political entity in the Muslim-dominated Mindanao, located in the southwestern Philippines. Under the agreement, the independent entity can raise its own revenues and administer a Muslim-based Shariah law justice system. The Philippine government, however, will remain in control of foreign policy, monetary policy and citizenship issues.

About the Author

Brian Gabriel has been a writer and blogger since 2009, contributing to various online publications. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in history from Whitworth University.

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