To deter religious institutions from being used as terrorists’ breeding grounds, the authorities in the Mindanao region of the Philippines are looking to regulate Islamic education and monitor what the young are taught.
Government officials and terrorism experts there told TODAY that teenagers from poor families and school dropouts, for example, are “easy targets” for extremists, who use social media to spread propaganda.
Mr Jasminder Singh, a senior analyst who does research on terrorism at Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), warned that the extremists could seek to exploit the ongoing conflict. “If they decide to use the events in Marawi and illustrate an image that the Muslims have been persecuted and that the airstrikes are similar to those in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, then recruitment becomes easy,” he said.
RSIS research fellow Joseph Franco, who specialises in counterinsurgency and counterterrorism studies, said: “For some kids, (joining the IS) is the only source of money and prestige.”
Mr Franco noted that the Philippine government has always kept a close watch on madrasahs and other non-religious institutions such as the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (Alcadev), for example.
This “across-the-board” effort seeks to prevent undesirable groups from preying on youth, he said.
Last updated on 16/06/2017