MILF: The deadly serious terror group with the somewhat silly name

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MILF

Firstly, MILF has nothing to do with Stiffler’s Mom, but we do need to deal with this striking name before moving on. 

I remember many years ago being in Eritrea and having their revolutionary struggle explained to me. The initial resistance army was the Eritrean Liberation Front or (yes, you worked it out I’m sure) ELF. 

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At some point this must have made them feel silly, so they added “People’s” to their name, so becoming the Eritrean Peoples Liberation Front. With their new initials, EPLF would eventually gain Eritrea a hard-won independence from Ethiopia. 

What shocks me is that this conversation has never been raised with the MILF, or Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Granted, the group pre-dates American Pie, and Stiffler’s Mom, etc, but you’d assume that at least one of these hardened Islamic thinkers, or one of their minions, had at least caught some part of popular culture.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF; Arabic: جبهة تحرير مورو الإسلامية Jabhat Taḥrīr Moro al-ʾIslāmiyyah) is a proscribed terrorist group based on the island of Mindanao fighting for an independent homeland for the Moro people or, more recently, regional autonomy.

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Technically the armed wing of the group is called the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF), although MILF is often used interchangeably when referring to the group. 

The group was formed in 1968, and began military operations a year later, with the ongoing civil war being punctured by various peace talks and offers of autonomy, such as in 1987 which culminated in the establishment of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in November 1990. 

Alas this was not accepted as enough by the MILF, and fighting continued largely uninterrupted until 2012 with ongoing negotiations towards a federal Philippines granting a muslim homeland. Peace was finally achieved in October last year with the signing of the Bangsamoro Organic Law providing a route map to autonomy. 

Quite how this will play out is anyone’s guess, what with the plethora of other Islamist terror groups in the region perhaps waiting to take the place of MILF, if not its acronym.

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