by Andre Vltchek, New Eastern Outlook: A month ago I wrote an essay exposing the complex network of Western-sponsored terrorism in Asia (“Washington Jihad Express: Indonesia, Afghanistan, Syria and Philippines”). I argued that in the 1980’s, Indonesian and Malaysian jihadists, indoctrinated by the Southeast Asian brand of extreme anti-Communism, went to fight in Afghanistan against the socialist governments of Karmal, and then Mohammad Najibullah, with the ultimate goal of destroying the Soviet Union. Hardened and further brainwashed, they returned home to Southeast Asia, participated in several ethnic strifes and pogroms (including those in Ambon and Poso), and then, in order to ‘bridge the generational gap’, embarked on the coaching of young generation of terrorists, who eventually ended up fighting in Syria and recently in the Philippines.
My essay was full of facts, and I put into it various testimonies of Southeast Asian academics, thinkers, and even of one active and prominent ‘jihadi cadre’ who is now living in Jakarta.
In the Indonesian city of Bandung, Mr. Iman Soleh, a professor at the Faculty of Social and Political Science (University of Padjadjaran- UNPAD) offered his take on why the West is now so obsessed with destabilizing and smearing the Philippines and its current rebellious administration:
“Since World War Two, the U.S. was afraid of so-called ‘domino effects’. Among other things that are now happening in the Philippines under president Duterte, the government is curbing activities of the multi-national mining conglomerates, and the West cannot accept that. Philippines are putting its environmental concerns above the short-term profits! For the millions of left-wing activists here in Indonesia and all over Southeast Asia, President Duterte is a role model.”
It is no secret that the West punishes such ‘bad paradigms’ brutally and decisively.
Prof. Soleh continued:
“I think all that is happening is not just to ‘destabilize’ the Philippines, but also because the country has conflict areas that could be ‘nurtured’. The best example is the predominantly Muslim island of Mindanao, vs. the rest of the Philippines, which is predominantly a Catholic country…”
Jihadi cadres dreaming about establishing caliphate, ‘color revolutions’ type politicians, several ‘perpetual conflicts’, as well as ‘vibrant civil society’ and NGOs that are clearly on the pay list of the West: you name it and the Philippines (for decades an obedient colony of the West) has them all. Their sole purpose is to destabilize the country and to overthrow the current administration in Palacio de Malacañán in Manila.
After a prolonged saga, I finally received a permit to visit Marawi City, which until now is torn by the war.
Before being given an army convoy and then expedited to the front, I was detained in Saguiaran town, at the army base, for almost 12 hours, and interrogated by the pro-US/anti-Duterte faction of the military. Using text messages I was immediately informed by my contacts in Manila: it was obvious that someone high up in the military command didn’t want me to witness what was really happening in the besieged city.
When I finally reached Marawi, I clearly understood why some anti-Duterte people wanted to stop me: almost everything on the ground was exactly the opposite of what the Western and the servile local media wanted to show the public.
Things were actually better, much better than I expected.
The Martial Law imposed on the area was ‘mild’ and rational. There was hardly any administrative interference from the military top brass. Relief operations to help tens of thousands of IDP’s were well organized and, given the difficult circumstances, extremely effective.
The army was busy fighting the terrorists who were holed up in about one square kilometer of the center of the city. The rest of Marawi was liberated and almost intact. My estimate was that around 20-30 percent of the houses were either destroyed or damaged, while the countless mass media reports have been speaking about the “entire city” or “most of the city” having been reduced to ruins.
I can testify to all this, as I was there, even facing the very core of the fighting, and I’m in possession of the photo evidence to illustrate what I’m claiming here.
I spoke to several internally displaced people (IDP) and I spoke to the civilians who are still living in Marawi and in the surrounding area. I met the highest commanding officers, including Brigadier General Ramiro Rey (head of the Joint Task Force Group, Ranao) and Lt. Colonel Jo-Ar Herrera, and grilled them with my questions, about the situation on the battlefield. I travelled with ordinary soldiers and I visited hospitals and relief centers.
General Rey explained during our meeting in the Municipality of Marawi City (now also serving as the headquarters of the war theatre):
“The ISIS wants to establish their state on the island of Mindanao – an Islamic caliphate – right here in the Province of Lanao del Sur.”
”On the 23th May there was a report about existence of a safe house of the terrorists. Our forces attacked and when this resulted in a firefight, we were surprised, realizing that the terrorists have already occupied almost the entire area. Later, after studying evidence and seeing videos, we found out that the terrorists were actually planning to take over the entire Marawi by May 26th, which was the start of Ramadan. The fighting continued for the entire day of the 23rd. If we would have failed that day, the situation would have been much worse. But our forces liberated most of Marawi and the terrorist forces had to withdraw east of the Agus River.”
The war has been brutal. There have been killings by the terrorists. Internally displaced people told me that ISIS set up checkpoints and divided people into Muslims and infidels. Non-Muslims were immediately killed, or taken as hostages and used until now, as human shields.
“The corpses of victims were all around Marawi, decomposing under the burning sun,” recalled Ms. Ima Mimbalawag. “Some were being eaten by dogs.”
After May 23rd, things deteriorated rapidly, and tens of thousands of local people were forced to hit the road, searching for safe havens all over the island and the country.
“The terrorists began using captured women as sex slaves,” explained Major Malvin Ligutan, standing in front of a temporary military base in Saguiaran, from which the deafening Howitzer salvos have been fired over the hills and towards the terrorist positions inside Marawi City.
Despite all the horrors of the Marawi war, the army refused to use brutaltactics, even after it found out that various local citizens clearly miscalculated and before the conflict began, offered substantial support to the ISIS-related terrorists.