Abu Sayyaf, BIFF links to jihadi group 'unverified'

Posted at 08/17/14 6:10 PM

MANILA -- The military warned of linking the Abu Sayyaf and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) with the al-Qaeda inspired Islamic State (IS), a radical jihadi group that has gained ground in Iraq and Syria.

Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesman Maj. Gen. Domingo Tutaan said any connections for now remain “unverified,” as he asked the media to be circumspect about reporting the supposed linkages as this will only cause undue alarm.

"It can be claimed by anybody who wants to take (advantage) so they can become more notorious, so that they will be feared more since they have links (with IS)," he added, noting that a wrong idea will only give way to their criminal activities.

Tutaan also refused to recognize videos posted on YouTube showing the groups pledging support for the IS.

"We do not dignify (videos on) YouTube... A lot of things can happen on YouTube… We are just being careful on our pronouncements before the media because we dont want to cause undue alarm... These (linkages) are unverified," he said.

BIFF spokesman Abu Misry Mama earlier told Agence France-Presse that the group has an alliance with the IS and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, pointing to a video posted on YouTube showing BIFF members reading a statement of support for the IS.