World Bulletin / News Desk
For a month, a previously little-known militant group tied to ISIL has held out against government troops and air power in the southern Philippines.
Fighters from the Maute group, alongside those from the higher profile Abu Sayyaf group, have held parts of Marawi City since May 23 in an apparent attempt to create a ISIL-style “caliphate” on the island of Mindanao.
The apparently unexpected outbreak of fighting led President Rodrigo Duterte to declare martial law across Mindanao, the second-largest island in the archipelago.
The siege, which has seen hundreds killed and the city -- the de facto capital of the region’s Muslims -- reduced to rubble, has brought the Maute group to international attention.
Led by brothers Abdullah and Omarkhayyam Maute, the group was formed in 2012 as Dawlah Islamiya and was primarily involved in banditry and other criminality.
According to Philippine Star reporter John Unson, the brothers formed the group after returning from the Middle East, where they studied theology and taught in local schools in Syria and the United Arab Emirates. Other reports have also linked them to Egypt and Jordan.
They are members of Mindanao’s Maranaw clan and are originally from Butig, a town in Lanao del Sur province.
However, their fledgling group was one of dozens of armed groups in Mindanao, where armed conflict between the state and the Moros, as local Muslim clans are known, has raged since the 1960s.
The Mautes’ first major encounter with the army came early last year, when they established three strongholds in Lanao del Sur and displaced nearly 30,000 people.Last Mod: 22 Haziran 2017, 12:58