ISIS Is Making Inroads in the Southern Philippines and the Implications for Asia Are Alarming | TIME

“One of those groups is the Abu Sayyaf militia, whose head Isnilon Hapilon — now styled Sheik Mujahid Abu Abdullah al-Filipini — has been appointed ISIS’s leader in the Philippines. Presently, the Philippine army is attempting to strike at the group’s jungle stronghold on the island of Basilan. In one of the bloodiest days for the armed forces in years, 18 soldiers were killed and over 50 wounded on April 9. ISIS claimed responsibility for the killings. Shortly after, Abu Sayyaf beheaded two Filipino hostages. (The group is also holding 10 Indonesians, two Canadians and a Norwegian captive.)

“It’s very likely that [Abu Sayyaf] will declare a satellite of the caliphate in the coming year,” says Rohan Gunaratna, an international terrorism expert at S. Rajaratnam School of Security Studies in Singapore. “Once that is done, it will be much more difficult to dismantle these groups.”

Already, up to 1,200 Southeast Asians have joined ISIS in the Middle East. Experts now worry that an ISIS stronghold in the southern Philippines will act as a regional lure, providing extremists from across Asia with a place to gain combat experience, before they set act to attack Asian targets or even targets further afield. The Jakarta attack in January that killed four civilians is just a taste of what could come, says Greg Barton, chair in global Islamic politics at Deakin University in Melbourne.”

Counter-terrorism operation in Philippines
LANAO DEL SUR, PHILIPPINES – MARCH 01 : Philippine army soldiers stage an counter-terrorism operation against Maute terrorists, allegedly supports and linked with Daesh in Butig town of Lanao Del Sur province of Mindanao Island, Philippines on March 01, 2016. The conflict form the Butig Town in Lanao del sur started last Febuary 20 when the militants attacked the 51st Infantry Battalion detachment in Barangay Tayabao. (Photo by Lito Boras/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

via ISIS Is Making Inroads in the Southern Philippines and the Implications for Asia Are Alarming | TIME

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