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Islamic State Targets Southern Philippines as ‘Strategic Ground’: MILF Chief

2 min read
A building in Marawi is set ablaze by air strikes

A building in Marawi is set ablaze by air strikes carried out by the Philippine Air Force. Photo: Mark Jhomel.


Islamic State (IS) has chosen Mindanao island as a “strategic ground” for recruiting fighters after being routed in its Middle Eastern strongholds last year, the leader of the largest Muslim guerrilla force in the southern Philippines warned on Tuesday.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) lost 24 guerrillas in 2017 as it helped the Philippine government fight a faction of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), which pledged allegiance to IS and was trying to control a vast marshland area in the south, MILF Chairman Murad Ebrahim said in Manila.

“The fight against violent extremism is real,” Murad said while speaking at the annual conference of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP).

“As the battlefields in the Middle East are cleared, and the bases of the ISIS are constricted, we will increasingly find them in our midst as they seek new strategic grounds where the hold of the government is weak, such as in Mindanao,” he said, using another term for Islamic State.

IS did not care about the “national liberation agenda” of Filipino Muslims but was playing on the “frustration and resentment of the people, especially the young” to lure them into extremism, Murad said.

“The reality now is that they are using the possible failure of the peace process to recruit more people,” Murad said, adding that IS could partner with smaller Philippine militant organizations in the south, such as the Abu Sayyaf Group and BIFF, to spread its extremist ideology.

Full story: BenarNews

Felipe Villamor and Jeoffrey Maitem
Manila and Cotabato City, Philippines

Copyright ©2018, BenarNews. Used with the permission of BenarNews.


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