Palace: No credible ISIS threat in Philippines
Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) - November 28, 2015 - 9:01am

MANILA, Philippines - There is no credible threat from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in the Philippines despite a recent clash in Mindanao that killed eight members, including an Indonesian, of a group that claims affiliation with ISIS.

Malacañang gave the assurance yesterday amid reports that the terrorist group has gained sympathizers in Mindanao.

The Palace on Friday directed authorities to verify possible links of the eight men killed in an encounter in Sultan Kudarat to international terror group ISIS – also called Daesh in Arab countries.

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said that while both the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) were of the position that the country must be vigilant against terror groups, there is no credible information that the ISIS has penetrated the country.

ISIS is notorious for its bizarre interpretation of Islam, which involves executing non-believers, including fellow Muslims.

“Validation of information gathered thus far has produced no basis to confirm such reports. The intelligence community continues to monitor threats to ensure proper response by the security forces,” Coloma said, quoting the PNP.

Coloma said the AFP also reported no credible and verified foreign terrorist presence in the country.

He said this was the reason why the AFP did not see the need to raise the country’s alert level.

“We call on our people to always remain vigilant and alert and to cooperate with the authorities. Our constant call is for a collective and participative security awareness and preparedness among our people,” Coloma said over radio dzRB.

The United States issued a worldwide terror alert on Monday and warned that ISIS and other extremist groups were planning attacks in multiple regions.

On Friday, Coloma said the AFP and the PNP were conducting law enforcement operations against threat groups.

“There are continuing efforts to verify if indeed there are possible links of such groups with other threat elements within and outside the country. Our security forces are committed to and focused on ensuring the safety and well-being of our citizens whose vigilance and cooperation are essential in maintaining peace and order,” Coloma said.

According to reports, Indonesian Sucipto Ibrahim Ali, alias Abdul Fatah, was killed – along with seven others – in a clash with soldiers of the 61st Marine Company under the Marine Battalion Landing Team 6 patrolling Sitio Sinapingan in Barangay Butril in Sultan Kudarat at about 5:40 a.m. on Thursday.

Western Mindanao Command spokesman Major Felimon Tan Jr. said the eight killed were members of the Ansarul Khilafa.

The military is still verifying if the slain Indonesian was indeed Sucipto, a member of the Mujahidin Indonesia Timur, which has claimed links to ISIS.

Following the encounter, troops recovered assorted high-powered firearms, materials for making improvised explosive devices (IEDs), assorted radios, various documents of high intel value and several pieces of ISIS flags.

The group recently posted videos of themselves on the Internet expressing support for extremist groups. They claim affiliation with ISIS and other extremist groups but have no known, verified and confirmed links to such groups, the AFP said.

ABDUL FATAH ACIRC ANSARUL KHILAFA ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES BARANGAY BUTRIL COLOMA GROUPS INDONESIAN SUCIPTO IBRAHIM ALI ISIS ISLAMIC STATE OF IRAQ AND SYRIA SULTAN KUDARAT
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