19 April 2016
On April 9 the self-styled Islamic State (IS) mounted an attack on the Philippine army in Basilan, Western Mindanao, killing 18 and injuring 53. Although Manila did not acknowledge the clash as an encounter with IS fighters, the group that fought the Armed Forces of the Philippines was led by the Islamic State’s designated leader in the southern Philippines, Isnilon Hapilon, a former deputy head of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG). Defence Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and the Armed Forces Chief of Staff flew to Zamboanga City and Basilan the next day.
The army operation in Basilan was poorly executed and demonstrated a poor appreciation of the emerging IS threat. On January 25 last year, the police suffered a similar debacle when 44 Special Force troopers were killed in Mamasapano. Although that operation killed Marwan, the top Malaysian terrorist, it demonstrated the difficulties of achieving effective state security on the country’s largest island, Mindanao.
… Professor Rohan Gunaratna is head of the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. He has interviewed members of the Abu Sayyaf Group, Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Rajah Solaiman Revolutionary Movement.
GPO / ICPVTR / Online
Last updated on 19/04/2016