Australia worried ISIS might move to Mindanao
With the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) losing ground in the Middle East, Australia said one of its primary concerns was that the terrorist group might move to Mindanao.
‘We don’t want to see it emerge elsewhere in the world, otherwise, we’ll be back in a few years’ time talking about how to defeat a caliphate in the southern Philippines,” Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told Sky News Australia on Sunday.
ISIS has been suffering heavy losses and losing territory in Iraq and Syria.
Bishop noted that ISIS recently named the leader of a terrorist group in the Philippines as an “emir,” apparently referring to Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon.
Earlier, Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that ISIS had directed Hapilon to move from Basilan to Central Mindanao to look for a suitable site for the caliphate.
“[S]o there is concern that ISIS may well seek to declare a caliphate” in the southern Philippines,” she said.
She pointed out that the possibility of an ISIS caliphate in Mindanao was a serious concern to Canberra, since the terror group would be moving closer to Australia.
“This brings the threat right to our doorstop,” Bishop said.
She stressed the need to cooperate with countries like the Philippines “to stamp this terror threat out of our region.”
Bishop said it was one of the issues she raised with President Rodrigo Duterte when she met the Philippine leader on March 17 in Davao City.
According to her, Duterte assured her of the Philippines’ full cooperation against the terrorist organization. CBB/rga
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