AFP: New Maute leader recruits using money, eyes orphans and kin of deceased

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 23) A year after the war that left Marawi City in ruins, the sub-leader of the Maute group, Abu Dar, is burning cash to replenish its forces by recruiting and training new members, according to the military.

Abu Dar replaced Isnilon Hapilon who was killed close to the end of the five-month Marawi Siege, Joint Task Force Ranao Deputy Commander Col. Romeo Brawner Jr. told CNN Philippines' On The Record.

"They find it more difficult now to recruit if they use only the ideology. They are now using money to try to entice people to join them," Brawner said.

He said Dar is offering a joining fee of P70,000 and a monthly fee of P10,000 - 15,000. The 100-strong sub-group is eyeing to recruit orphans and kin of the deceased combatants in the Marawi Siege, he added.

"This is not the first time that a militant group tried to bring in members using money. It's a combination of money and ideological commitment and ability to wave violence. You have to have a perfect storm," said analyst Joseph Franco of the Center of Excellence for National Security.

 

The counter-insurgency expert however has doubts that Dar has the "street cred" to influence new members. Franco said that Dar is unlike Hapilon who had resonance with ISIS propagandists in Syria, Iraq and Southeast Asia.

"He [Hapilon] had a brand. I'm not sure Abu Dar has a similar-I hate to say this-'star power'," he said. He noted that Hapilon's popularity complemented Maute's resources to fund a war against government forces.

It is also unlikely that Dar's group will get funding from ISIS, he said. "They have issues on their own home court. Then how can the local affiliates - the guys overseas - how can they receive support from the home office?"

The military said they received reports that the Maute sub-group is training new recruits in remote and mountainous areas in Butig, Lanao del Sur.

"But these are minimal and I think the military is still in control," said Marawi City Mayor Majul Gandamra. He said he is confident that the government will be able to convince the remaining members of the IS-inspired group to surrender.

Brawner said 27 members of the Maute Group have surrendered to the government and they are expecting more in the coming weeks.

The military has also improved its training on combat in urban setting, where concrete structures and industrial materials like LPG tanks could be used against the soldiers, said Joint Task Force Trident and Marawi Commander Maj. Gen. Danilo Pamonag.