‘Local terrorists lack support from ISIS’
Jaime Laude (The Philippine Star) - November 22, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — For lack of support from their foreign counterparts, terrorists in Mindanao are capable of mounting only small-scale attacks, according to the United States Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM).

In an executive summary submitted to the Inspector General of the US Department of Defense, the USINDOPACOM said Islamic State of Syria and Iraq (ISIS)-inspired terrorists in Southeast Asia also lack strong internal leadership, a factor that has impeded their ability to launch attacks outside their base or carry out large-scale attacks.

“ISIS-East Asia is... only capable of conducting... suicide attacks in Jolo, Sulu and... islands in Southern Philippines,” it said.

The Hawaii-based US military command, through its newly created unit –Operation Pacific Eagle Philippines (OPE-P) – has deployed an anti-terror contingent  in parts of Mindanao.

The US anti-terror unit is  training and providing intelligence information to Filipino soldiers hunting down members of the Abu Sayyaf, Khalifa Islamiyah Mindanao and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, particularly in Sulu, Basilan, Tawi-Tawi, Lanao provinces and Central Mindanao.

The OPE-P replaced the former US Pacific Command Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines based in Zamboanga City.

“As assessed, ISIS-East Asia’s lack of network cohesion, support from the international leadership of ISIS and strong internal leadership or adequate financing are factors that have impeded ISIS-East Asia’s ability to conduct activity outside its base or operations,” the USINDOPACOM said.

The military command said most suicide attacks in the Philippines were carried out by highly radicalized foreigners who failed to join the fighting in Iraq and Syria.

Two Egyptians, a Moroccan and an Indonesian couple blew themselves up in   attacks in Sulu and Basilan in the past two years.

“Most suicide attacks in the Philippines were conducted by foreign nationals... They were likely radicalized prior to their travel to the Philippines,” the USINDOPACOM said.

ISIS ideology and its emphasis on suicide attacks ”has not resonated broadly” among Filipinos even though it had permeated some ISIS-East Asia factions, particularly in Sulu, it added.

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