A video showing the merger of four Islamic terror groups in the Philippines appeared on a dark web Jihadi forum Shumukh al-Islam last January 4, 2016. In the video, Abu Sayyaf Group’s notorious leader Isnilon Hapilon (also known as Abdullah al-Filipini) was seen marching together with Abu Sharifa, the leader of another notorious group Ansar al-Khalifa, Abu Harith al Filipini, representative of the Ma’rakah Al-Ansar Battalion and Abu Anas al-Muhajir (also known as Ibrahim), leader of the Ansar al-Shariah Battalion. Hapilon is wanted by the US Government and has a $5 million price on his head.
The video has since been taken down from the dark web. It’s no longer accessible.
To say that this is bad news is an understatement. This is a disaster.
This new development is very alarming as it now poses a very realistic danger not just in the Philippines, but in the neighboring Asian countries like Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, China, et al. Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and China have their shares of Islamic terror problems in the past, and the establishment of an ISIS Wilayat in the Philippines could possibly lead to an even bigger problem –the merger of terror groups from neighboring countries to join forces with the newly established ISIS regional outpost in Mindanao. This is most likely to happen considering that the Philippines have a loose policy on terrorism and travelling in Mindanao is easier compared to travelling in Syria.
I’ve predicted this scenario in my ISIS articles last year. And I was right.
I first sounded the alarm about the growing ISIS activity in Southern Philippines last March 2015 in my article published by a popular Filipino website, Get Real Philippines, and another one here in The Contemptible. Those warnings fell into deaf ears.
The Contemptible article. March 15, 2015.
Just like Barack Obama, the Aquino administration ‘ignored’ the threat posed by ISIS. This time, the consequences of the irresponsible ‘downplaying’ of this global crisis will surely blow out of proportion if Aquino will continue to dismiss the growing terrorism problem in his backyard.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the notorious ISIS leader vowed to expand his caliphate in all four corners of the world. Now, this goal of ISIS is slowly unfolding in front of our eyes.
Just a few days ago, Boko Haram pledged allegiance to ISIS. Prior to that, radical groups in various parts of the Middle East and Southeast Asia pledged allegiances to ISIS. The Philippines, among them. This is a clear signal that ISIS influence is starting to reach the corners of the world. Yet, the world leaders like Obama and Aquino remained impassive on this issue.
Reports of ISIS covert operations in Southern Mindanao, Philippines has been going on since 2014. It started when radical groups in Mindanao posted videos pledging their allegiances to the caliphate of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. That video was promoted by Musa Cerantonio –an ISIS proselytizer– who was at that time, detained in Bicutan Prison for charges of inciting terrorism in the country. A few months after, Bilal Philips –another ISIS propagandist– visited the country, most likely to follow up on Cerantonio’s activities prior to his deportation. It was also assessed by the Malaysian authorities that five of their most wanted terrorists are hiding in Southern Mindanao. Those terrorists were bomb makers/IED experts and recruiters of ISIS.
Why the Philippines?
Simple. Malaysia and Indonesia, in response to ISIS growing threat toughened their security and started cracking down on terrorist groups and ISIS supporters in their respective countries. The Philippines, on the other hand has been loose on its terrorism policy. Added to that is the fact that the country has been a support node for terrorists all this time. By logic, the Philippines is the most likely candidate for ISIS expansion program.
Read the rest of the article here.
Get Real Philippines article. March 15, 2015.
In a statement resonating the President’s ‘downplaying’ of the growing Muslim extremism problem in Southern Mindanao, military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Ramon Zagala told the New York Times that “there were ISIS sympathizers in the country but, there is no ISIS operation going on based on their information.”
How is that possible?
A lot of evidence point out to a growing ISIS activity in Southern Mindanao yet, the Aquino administration is all too willing to risk our national security by turning a blind eye to the crisis in his mad pursuit of his signature policy, the BBL.
In 2013, the Philippines ranked #9 in the Global Terrorism Index. That should be enough to worry a president gifted with common sense, but Aquino was more concerned on the impact of the GTI ranking to the country’s tourism than the safety of the tourists and the Filipino people.
In 2014, the country was visited by prominent ISIS propagandists as part of the group’s efforts to expand ISIS operations in Southeast Asia. The Philippines is the most logical choice for them to set up IS training camps in the Far East because of these reasons:
- Malaysia and Indonesia –the only muslim countries in Southeast Asia– tightened their security and cracked down on radical groups operating in their country. Aquino, on the other hand is doing just the opposite.
- The Philippines has been a historical support node for terror groups throughout Southeast Asia –to include two terrorist group that were included in the US list of most wanted international terrorist organizations; the Jemaah Islamiya and the Abu Sayyaf Group.
- Al-Qaeda –Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s former group– has close ties to Abu Sayyaf Group, with the former providing financial and tactical support for the later as far back as the early 90’s.
Some time in September 2014, around 100 Filipino Muslims in Marawi gathered in public to pledge allegiance to ISIS after Friday prayers and urged their community to back up the jihadists. That same month, sightings of the black flag which is a symbol of ISIS ideology were noted in various parts of Mindanao. Prior to that, radical groups in Mindanao such as the Abu Sayyaf Group’s Isnilon Hapilon, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters under Basit Usman, and the Khilafa Islamiya Movement posted videos declaring allegiance and undying support to the caliphate of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Then, there’s the plot to attack Metro Manila including, the SM Mall of Asia, the Greenbelt Mall and the US Embassy some time in October 2014 — all in the name of ISIS.
Other reported incidents linking to ISIS growing influence in the Philippines were the unconfirmed reports of Filipino IS fighters posing as Malaysians who were killed in Syria on two separate occasions; one in June 2014, and another report in August 2014. This is highly possible since Filipino jihadists were reportedly being smuggled via Sabah route where they were provided fake Malaysian passports by Dr. bin Ahmed. From Sabah, they make their way to Kuala Lumpur to travel by air to Saudi Arabia, en route to Turkey. Upon reaching Turkey, they travel on ground where they were being processed in Tal-Abayd and finally, proceed to Syria.
In November 2014, a Filipino IS fighter was reported to have participated in the beheadings of Peter Kassig and the eighteen Syrian pilots. The video that was filmed in Dabbiq, Aleppo showed the face of the alleged Filipino IS fighter but, instead of reaching out to the Syrian government for confirmation, the Philippine government denied everything and claimed, the jihadist is actually an ‘Indonesian.’
In January 2015, two attempts to assasinate the visiting Pope was thwarted by the military. Marwan, an operative of the ISIS- linked Jemaah Islamiya planned to set up bombs in Kalaw Street where the Papal motorcade was set to pass. Another plot to assasinate the pope which was long planned by ISIS was also thwarted when a Filipino engineer who reportedly trained under ISIS was apprehended in Tacloban City days before the the scheduled Papal visit.
All those incidents mentioned should be more than enough to alert the government to the growing ISIS influence in the country, but Aquino is so invested in seeing the completion of his signature policy that he refuses to address emerging threats in order to avoid appearing “wrong” –he’s known for that. Unfortunately, his failure to acknowledge that he has a huge problem is driving the country towards the dark horizon.
In many ways, Benigno Aquino is Barack Obama’s Southeast Asian ‘clone.’ Both presidents are known to acknowledge any wrongdoing — apart from their own mistakes, both downplaying the threat of ISIS despite mounting evidence of the group’s expanding activity while pursuing both mad policies; Obama’s Iran Nuclear Deal and Aquino’s BBL deal.
Their refusal to address the growing problem of ISIS threat that represents a global problem for every civilized nation in the world, is going to cost a lot of innocent lives and is catapulting this world into the most feared apocalypse.
Just last week, four Filipinos were captured by ISIS in Libya. If the group will succeed in establishing a caliphate in Southern Mindanao –efforts are already in progress– what will happen to the Philippines? As much as I don’t want to think about it, with the way President Aquino is handling the situation in the country, the most dreaded ISIS scenario in the Philippines is not far from the reality.
Read more details of my report here.
Some time in July 2015, I stumbled across a Jihadi chatter on Twitter suggesting a plan to unite the Islamist militants in Southeast Asia following the success of the Katibah Nusantara, an ISIS military unit in Syria composed of Southeast Asian elite fighters from Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. I started researching about the Katibah Nusantara and stumbled across intelligence reports confirming what I’ve discovered on Twitter –a brewing plan of the Asian militants to merge and establish an ISIS Regional Caliphate in Southeast Asia.
The information contained in the intelligence reports were limited, citing ‘ongoing military surveillance’ (intelligence agencies were still trying to determine the location of the ISIS training ground in Southeast Asia, according to intel documents available online). In other words, it’s classified. So, I decided to search for other sources that could yield more information. While preparing my article on the subject, I posted an alert on my Facebook author page about what I’ve discovered. I shared the information to a Flipino Facebook group with more than 20,000 members. It was ridiculed. As one member arrogantly asked me, “Who are you again?”
Amidst the danger surrounding the country due to the ISIS threat, they still have the nerve to display arrogance. Disgusting!
Anti-Islam activists are met with criticism, ridicule and cold shoulders everywhere. This is hardly a surprise now. Nonetheless, the initial reaction got me so disappointed that I decided to drop the subject of the brewing Islamic Caliphate in Southeast Asia. I did not brought it up again. The draft of the article I was working on that time stayed in the draft section.
Then, the information made headlines around the world some time in November.
In December 2015, a video was released by ISIS proclaiming the Philippines as its new training ground. The training camp featured in the video was believed to be somewhere in Basilan, a stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf Group.
The expansion of ISIS operations in the Philippines is a result of the Aquino administration’s irresponsible downplaying of the ISIS threat in the region. As I have predicted almost a year ago, this will blow out of proportion if remained unaddressed. And here it is –it’s happening now.
I would love to say, “I told you so”, but at this point, what difference will it make? There is no escaping reality now. ISIS has been activated in the Philippines. It’s only a matter of time before the mass beheading and suicide bombings send shockwaves in the entire Philippine archipelago.
Checkmate, President Aquino.