Maute terrorist group that has brought war to Marawi City was found out by military intel to have trained children ages seven to 16 years old for combat.
“Sila yung mga kinakaharap ngayon ng mga government forces nasa Marawi City, yung mga tinrain nilang mga foreign fighters and children,” said Dr. Rommel Banlaoi, chairman of the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research.
Most of the children being trained by Maute are orphans. They underwent training that required making use of sniper guns, bombs, and suicide bomb jackets.
“Doon sa mga fighters na nireport ng ating pamahalaan na mahigit 500, siguro mga humigit kumulang [ang] foreign fighters and children dyan, almost 50–100,” Banlaoi added.
Orphans are most susceptible to company brought by groups like Maute due to lack of parental guidance and support.
“Tabularasa sila, kung ano ang ituro mo, unang-una yun ang paniniwalaan nila. Target nila mostly orphans, mga wala nang mga magulang,” Banlaoi said.
Banlaoi further added that Maute had not only trained the orphans for combat, but also taught them how to read, write, read the Koran, and religious propaganda in line with the ISIS principles.
“Tinirain nila sa isang boarding school na Islamic school. Tinrain nila how to read and write, read the Koran, then eventually, binasahan na nila ng mga religious propaganda na aligned sa itinuturo ng ISIS. Iyon na ang pinaniwalaan nilang relihiyon then eventually tinuruan na sila to use arms and sniper weapons.”
To strengthen the faith and belief of the children in the terrorists’ causes, they targeted the children’s morals and filial values to make them loyal to the group.
“Binigyan sila ng doktrina na kapag sila ay namatay sa pakikibaka, hindi lang nila sini-save ang kanilang kaluluwa, but they are also saving the souls of their whole family at yon ang motivation nila to fight,” Banlaoi said.
Both local and foreign terrorists have trained the children in literacy and combat.
“Mga foreigners din ang nagturo sa kanila on how to use the weapons, kasi sila yung mga merong skills on how to use this,” Banlaoi said.
Source: ABS-CBN News
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