Filipino Muslims will congregate today at the Golden Mosque in Quiapo Manila to pay tribute to Osama Bin Laden, the slain Al-Qaeda leader and mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks. Several days ago, U.S. troops swooped down on Bin Laden’s lair in Pakistan. American Navy seals reportedly shot Bin Laden in the head. Conflicting reports say Bin Laden was unarmed when he was killed, fueling speculations that it was an assassination instead of a firefight.
Shortly after the raid, U.S. authorities confiscated his body and sent it to a laboratory for DNA testing. Afterwards, reports say his body was put in a bag and released into the Arabian sea. This inflamed several Muslim communities in Manila and other parts of the world. Despite assurances from the United States that they followed Muslim rites in disposing Bin Laden’s body, several Muslim clerics, particularly in Manila, loudly criticized the un-Islamic handling of the entire issue.
Osama has several links in the past with charity foundations in the Philippines. A number of Muslim communities benefitted from his charity works several decades ago. These charity works, however, stopped shortly after the 9/11 attacks, upon suspicions that they were being used to finance terror attacks. Philippine authorities have identified these groups.
The Philippine government has placed Mindanao, the southern island of the archipelago, under a high risk alert. Four provinces are now being monitored, since these provinces are allegedly peopled by Muslims sympathetic to Bin Laden’s revolutionary work. There is, however, no specific information regarding attacks, yet Philippine authorities have intensified security in high value infrastructures in the country.
Several Muslims I interviewed say that they sympathized with Osama’s criticism against the West. Filipino Muslims, especially those living in Mindanao, are fighting for a separate Muslim state. Mindanao, according to Filipino Muslims, has been the battleground against Western Imperialism, something which Osama fought for when he was still alive. Now that he’s gone, several of them say they will continue Bin Laden’s legacy, not of promoting active terrorism around the world, but undertaking active resistance against growing U.S. interference with small states such as the Philippines