Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Monday 25 January |
The Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul
home iconNews
line break icon

Catholic Philippines in ISIS' Crosshairs

Fr Lawrence Lew OP CC

John Burger - published on 03/09/16

Increasing cause for concern that Islamic State is moving into Southeast Asia

There is increasing concern that the Islamic State group is expanding its operations in Southeast Asia, including the Philippines.

The archipelago, which has a population that is 83 percent Catholic, has a strong Islamic separatist movement in the south. The Institute for the Study of War reports that three Islamist groups early in 2016 jointly pledged allegiance to ISIS.

But one group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), seems worried enough about Islamic State expansion that it formed a task force to counter ISIS recruitment, the ISW says. It notes that Southeast Asian jihadist groups are fragmented.

ISIS is using its safe haven and foreign fighter population in Iraq and Syria to expand influence in Southeast Asia, in pursuit of its grand strategic objective to rule all Muslim lands, the institute explains in a new report.

The government and the military of the Philippines, however, insisted recently that there is no ISIS presence in the southern region of Mindanao despite recent incidents of violence in the area, a Philippines newspaper said.

MILF chairman Murad Ebrahim said in a press conference in Kuala Lumpur on Monday that ISIS was trying to establish a stronghold in Mindanao to capitalize on the growing frustration on the breakdown of efforts to end the Muslim separatist rebellion.

Congress failed to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which would be the legal basis for the creation of an autonomous Bangsamoro region in Mindanao in accordance with the peace agreement between the government and the MILF, The Philippine Star reported.

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. dismissed Ebrahim’s comments as a ploy to revive the BBL for next year.

Nevertheless, a recent assassination of an anti-ISIS Saudi cleric while he was lecturing in the southern Philippines is worrying. ISIS did not claim responsibility for the shooting, but had called for the cleric’s assassination in the February issue of Dabiq, its English language magazine.

The Institute for the Study of War says that ISIS’s Syria-based Southeast Asian fighters are resourcing and directing local networks to launch attacks:

Competition between militant elements vying to lead the Southeast Asian pro-ISIS movement will likely encourage increased jihadist attacks in the short term, threatening urban areas and Western interests in the region. Support from ISIS’s safe haven may also facilitate the creation of an active, trans-national ISIS affiliate in Southeast Asia in the medium term. The U.S. has an opportunity to counter ISIS’ network in Southeast Asia before it develops further. … Early action against ISIS’ Southeast Asian supporters can limit ISIS’ ability to develop an affiliate in the area, particularly as those supporters face resistance from locally focused and al Qaeda-associated groups.

Rodolfo Mendoza, a senior analyst at the Manila-based Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research told Agence France-Presse that the various local groups that had pledged allegiance to ISIS were “planning big operations, like bombings, attacks or assassinations.”

“Their influence is growing stronger, and it is expanding,” he said.

Tags:
IslamIslamic MilitantsPhilippines
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in eight languages: English, French, Arabic, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
LUXOR FILM FESTIVAL
Zoe Romanowsky
20-year-old filmmaker wins award for powerful 1-minute film about...
2
Philip Kosloski
When did Christians start praying the Hail Mary?
3
Philip Kosloski
What are the corporal works of mercy?
4
PHILIP RIVERS
Cerith Gardiner
Quarterback Philip Rivers' retirement announcement reflects his s...
5
DAD, HOW DO I?
Cerith Gardiner
Meet the dad who's teaching basic skills on YouTube for kids with...
6
CONSOLE
Philip Kosloski
What are the spiritual works of mercy?
7
Fr. Patrick Briscoe, OP
The 4 Ways to read Scripture every Catholic should know
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.