Philippine southern militants form “Islamic State province”

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ISIS Mindanao2Four Islamic militant groups in the southern Philippines have apparently joined forces to create a satellite of the Islamic State in Southeast Asia, making Mindanao their base. A video released on January 4, 2016 shows consolidation of extremist groups pledging allegiance to ISIS (Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, also known as ISIS, IS, ISIL, or Da’esch) in the Philippines, reports Rappler.

According to the report, the video – which is now largely blocked on the web – was shot in Mindanao and began circulating on jihadi web forums. It shows Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon marching with other extremist leaders from Sulu and Basilan, including Abu Sharifa, the leader of Ansar al-Khilafa, which is one of the most aggressive and targeted Filipino groups linked to ISIS. They pledge allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

The groups have, in the past, separately claimed support for ISIS, but the video suggests they might have agreed to consolidate their forces, creating an even more potent threat from the lawless island region bordering Malaysia.

ISIS Mindanao1“With the proclamation of an ISIS branch in the southern Philippines, the ISIS influence and ideology is likely to grow, affecting both the southern Philippines and eastern Malaysia. ISIS is likely to create a safe haven in Basilan and mount operations from the Sulu archipelago into both the Philippines and Malaysia,” Rohan Gunaratna, head of the International Center for Political Violence & Terrorism Research in Singapore., was quoted as saying in the report.

“The next step ISIS is likely to take is the proclamation of wilayat [province of the Caliphate] Mindanao,” said Gunaratna.

ISIS MindanaoTerror groups in the Philippines have been flying the same “black flag” used by ISIS for at least four years, and posted several propaganda videos since November, including one threatening an imminent attack on the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting of world leaders in Manila, which, however, thankfully did not materialise. A video released in December purported to show fighters at secret training camp who claimed to be the “soldiers of the Caliphate in the Philippines”.

Australian media voiced their concern about the video, calling the formation of a larger ISIS group in the Asia-Pacific region a “new threat to the region,” especially should radicals from Indonesia also join the Mindanao force. Radicals from Malaysia are also believed to have fled to the Philippines to train and recruit ISIS fighters.

Australia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop said Canberra was “concerned about the growing influence” of Islamic State in the region and increased co-operation between security agencies was under way in response to the threat posed by these and other extremists

But the Filipino military has downplayed links to the terror group in the Middle East.

“They’re not really ISIS,” Philippines military spokesman Colonel Restituto Padilla told reporters in December.

“We view them as mere criminal gangs.”

National security adviser Cesar Garcia said: “ISIS has no training camps in the Philippines.”

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Four Islamic militant groups in the southern Philippines have apparently joined forces to create a satellite of the Islamic State in Southeast Asia, making Mindanao their base. A video released on January 4, 2016 shows consolidation of extremist groups pledging allegiance to ISIS (Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, also known as ISIS, IS, ISIL, or Da'esch) in the Philippines, reports Rappler. According to the report, the video - which is now largely blocked on the web - was shot in Mindanao and began circulating on jihadi web forums. It shows Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon marching with other extremist...

Reading Time: 2 minutes

ISIS Mindanao2Four Islamic militant groups in the southern Philippines have apparently joined forces to create a satellite of the Islamic State in Southeast Asia, making Mindanao their base. A video released on January 4, 2016 shows consolidation of extremist groups pledging allegiance to ISIS (Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, also known as ISIS, IS, ISIL, or Da’esch) in the Philippines, reports Rappler.

According to the report, the video – which is now largely blocked on the web – was shot in Mindanao and began circulating on jihadi web forums. It shows Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon marching with other extremist leaders from Sulu and Basilan, including Abu Sharifa, the leader of Ansar al-Khilafa, which is one of the most aggressive and targeted Filipino groups linked to ISIS. They pledge allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

The groups have, in the past, separately claimed support for ISIS, but the video suggests they might have agreed to consolidate their forces, creating an even more potent threat from the lawless island region bordering Malaysia.

ISIS Mindanao1“With the proclamation of an ISIS branch in the southern Philippines, the ISIS influence and ideology is likely to grow, affecting both the southern Philippines and eastern Malaysia. ISIS is likely to create a safe haven in Basilan and mount operations from the Sulu archipelago into both the Philippines and Malaysia,” Rohan Gunaratna, head of the International Center for Political Violence & Terrorism Research in Singapore., was quoted as saying in the report.

“The next step ISIS is likely to take is the proclamation of wilayat [province of the Caliphate] Mindanao,” said Gunaratna.

ISIS MindanaoTerror groups in the Philippines have been flying the same “black flag” used by ISIS for at least four years, and posted several propaganda videos since November, including one threatening an imminent attack on the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting of world leaders in Manila, which, however, thankfully did not materialise. A video released in December purported to show fighters at secret training camp who claimed to be the “soldiers of the Caliphate in the Philippines”.

Australian media voiced their concern about the video, calling the formation of a larger ISIS group in the Asia-Pacific region a “new threat to the region,” especially should radicals from Indonesia also join the Mindanao force. Radicals from Malaysia are also believed to have fled to the Philippines to train and recruit ISIS fighters.

Australia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop said Canberra was “concerned about the growing influence” of Islamic State in the region and increased co-operation between security agencies was under way in response to the threat posed by these and other extremists

But the Filipino military has downplayed links to the terror group in the Middle East.

“They’re not really ISIS,” Philippines military spokesman Colonel Restituto Padilla told reporters in December.

“We view them as mere criminal gangs.”

National security adviser Cesar Garcia said: “ISIS has no training camps in the Philippines.”

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