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Philippine Islamic renegade rebel leader appeals to UN to help resolve conflict


14:34, August 29, 2011

DATU UNSAY, Philippines, Aug. 29 (Xinhua) -- The head of a breakaway Islamic rebel group has called on United Nation to help find solution to the decades old conflict in the southern Philippines.

Sheik Ameril Umra Kato, chief of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement, told reporters inside their camp here on Sunday they wanted UN to extend help end seemingly endless sufferings of Filipino Muslims that claimed tens of thousands of lives.

Kato, deep in the rebel's lair in Camp Omar in the rugged Datu Unsay town guarded heavily by his loyal fighters in full battle arms, proved rather unaffected of the would-be armed scenario after Ramadan.

Sensing yet bloodshed in the days to come, the 65-year-old intense, complex and enigmatic bespectacled Kato considers himself in prime condition welcomes the thought. "Should there be no peaceful means, with God's help, we will sustain the war.

"This is not our own battle. What we are fighting for is God' s law," Kato told reporters on Sunday.

But denying any health ailments, Kato, proved he is no old for a fighter. "I can still shoot, I can still run a distance."

"We are warning the Americans not to go in our territories or they will be targeted," he said.

According to him, last month and last year, American soldiers were seen in their controlled areas in Maguindanao province along with Filipino soldiers. "We are ready," Kato said atop the sloppy grassland camp accessible only by foot. Camp Omar, Kato said, is home to around 500 "mujahideen ready to die in name of Allah."

Mid-morning Sunday, from a not so distant hideout, Kato garbed in a dark blue tactical outfit, a 357 magnum and bayonet tucked at his side, emerged riding a horse with combatants mostly in their youth. "Takbir Allahu Akbar," all chanted, raising their rocket propelled grenade launcher, machine guns, barret and more automatic rifles.

Kato showed stance, claiming to have the support of some 4,000 fighters across the MILF bases. "They are loyal fighters of Allah, they are everywhere. We have a pact, that everyone in the group should never stray from what our former leader Hashim Salamat has espoused."

"A large number of mujaheddin have died in the clashes since, we will never forget. This is God's fight," Kato says referring to martyrs he avowed not to accept the Constitution biased to Muslims. "That's manifestation of surrender once they entered into signing the agreement with the government."

Kato, who is vocal about his war plan against the government's political package to the MILF, reiterated the provisions of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain, which the Supreme Court rejected for violating the laws of the provinces.

"These demands we could not just ignore for they emanate from significant sectors of Moro society. As a Bangsamoro liberation organization, the BIFM has to take serious account of the sentiments of each and every sector of the Bangsamoro people whose collective interest and aspiration represents whether in the armed struggle or in the peace negotiation," Kato said.

What then is the best possible remedial solution, he asks. " Everybody must fully submit himself to Islam. We must surrender to the will of God--meaning we must cast aside all material desires in favor of our struggle for self-determination."

"The war went from bad, worse then to a category of worst," Kato said. The BIFM, as a liberation organization calls for the possible political solution to the seemingly endless suffering of the Bangsamoro people which claimed tens of thousands of Moro lines, billions of pesos worth of damaged properties from the Marcos regime to the present.

But in a change of fate, Murad and Aquino met in Tokyo who offered a chance to repackage the agreement. Kato says, that was a waste of effort, waste of time, waste of money. "Just imagine the rigid peace talks from 1997 up to the present time."

"I call all ulama to stand up and be open minded with full force of our God-given wisdom and utilize them in the best possible way in fighting squarely against the forces of evils now proliferating in our midst."

"If we fail to overcome these evil forces and follow the dictate of our worldly desires and give preference to the beauties of intervening environment, definitely we shall be in vain to arrive at the ultimate objective."

But Kato has expressed aghast over the MILF's meeting the demands of the government and its "surrender" to the Philippine democracy which does not uphold Islamic belief.

He lashed out at MILF's being swayed to evil actions of kidnapping and enriching themselves through purchase of million- peso worth of vehicles and houses. "That's a life not based in the Quran, but, but yes, in democracy there's paradise," Kato says, involving key leaders families in series of kidnapping around southern Philippines .

Kato's break-up with the MILF is offshoot to the rife between him and central command. They remain at odds despite efforts of the leadership to engage with him.

Kato, took up fundamentals of religion as a scholar in Imam Mohammad Binzaud Islamic School, in Rihadh, Saudi Arabai in 1985. With three wives, and 15 children, five grandchildren.

But if all else fails, Kato warned they have last alternative. "If we can get our aspirations through other means, if there's no other way, then we have other means."

Kato was blamed for some of the country's deadliest attacks in recent years.


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