Military watching foreign jihadists
The military is monitoring the presence of foreign jihadists in Basilan province suspected of having links to the extremist Islamic State (IS) group.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines said it had received reports about foreign jihadists since last year although the military has yet to ascertain their affiliations to the IS.
Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, public affairs office chief, said at least three foreigners are believed to be coddled by the Abu Sayyaf group.
“We have yet to ascertain if they are with the Islamic State. But during an encounter in Basilan with the Abu Sayyaf, there was a black flag that sub leader Isnilon Hapilon used to declare allegiance to the Islamic State,” he said.
Cabunoc said the bandit group might be trying to project that a terror group exists locally so that they can get funding from an international organization.
Cabunoc said Abu Sayyaf group subleaders Hapilon and Furuji Indama were believed to be coddling the three foreign jihadists, suspected to be Malaysian nationals.
The foreigners are believed to be shuttling back and forth to Sulu and Basilan.
It may be recalled that Hapilon and the late Basit Usman declared their allegiance to the IS.
Cabunoc pointed out that their actual membership or affiliation had not yet been established.
He cited an encounter between the Scout Rangers and the Abu Sayyaf group last month, during which they recovered improvised bombs were traced to a group of foreign jihadists.
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