Abu Turaife had been described by some reports as a commander of a Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters breakaway group, which was reportedly planning to stage bombings in Cotabato. AP/Bullit Marquez, File

Military sees ISIS-inspired Turaife group as major threat
(philstar.com) - December 15, 2017 - 7:25am

MANILA, Philippines — Following the defeat of Maute terrorists in Marawi City, the military on Friday said it is monitoring a small ISIS-inspired militant group it said is capable of carrying out deadly attacks.

Through a swift vote in Congress dominated by his allies, lawmakers on Wednesday granted President Rodrigo Duterte martial law powers across Mindanao for one more year to defeat militants operating in the insurgency plagued region.

In his letter to Congress, Duterte said that with the death of Isnilon Hapilon, the Islamic State’s point man in Southeast Asia and one of the leaders of the Marawi rebellion, Esmail Abdulmalik, who uses the nom de guerre Abu Turaife, might replace Hapilon.

Abu Turaife has been monitored to be planning bombings in the south, Duterte said

Without going into detail, Col. Edgard Arevalo, chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Public Affairs Office, said the military cannot underestimate Abu Turaife’s 22-member group.

“Maybe what we could mention with certainty or report with certainty is their number, pero ‘yung kanilang (but not their) ability to recruit, their mobility, the arms they possess, and their capability to conduct terrorist activity,” Arevalo told a press conference.

“Kasama po sila sa itinuturing nating malaking banta sapagkat ang grupo po ni Abu Turaife ay may leaning towards extremism (They are considered a major threat since Abu Turaife's group leans towards extremism),” he added.

Abu Turaife had been described in some reports as a commander of a breakaway group from the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters. The group reportedly planned bombings in Cotabato.

The BIFF also uses the black ISIS flag as its own.

On May 23, Duterte imposed martial law in Mindanao, which was retained until yearend, after the principal Islamic city of Marawi was stormed by heavily-armed Maute extremists who pledged allegiance to ISIS.

In a rousing address to troops last October, Duterte declared Marawi liberated from pro-ISIS extremists after five months of fighting that gave state forces their first taste of urban warfare.

But the president said jihadist fighters who escaped the Marawi battle were actively recruiting to carry out future assaults.

According to Arevalo, rebels are using social media to radicalize their prospective recruits. The terrorists also allegedly us cash rewards to ramp up recruitment.

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