11 January 2016
In exclusive video footage obtained by The Australian, the merger of four militant battalions and their machine gun-toting leaders are seen pledging allegiance to the self-proclaimed caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, indicating Islamic State ambitions.
The video, showing militants carrying Islamic State flags, was posted on the internet on Friday but immediately removed.
It was filmed at a training camp in Basilan, Mindanao, an autonomous Muslim region bordering Malaysia.
Counter-terror expert and head of the Singapore-based International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research, Rohan Gunaratna, yesterday warned the new wilayat, or province, posed major security concerns for Australia and Southeast Asia. “The recruits who cannot go to Syria because of travel restrictions will train in The Philippines and attack Australia and coalition interests on their return,” Dr Gunaratna said, adding the merger would present an unprecedented challenge to the government in Manila. “As the ‘soldiers of the caliphate’ in The Philippines, they will mount operations that will increasingly mirror IS’s core in Syria and Iraq.”
GPO / ICPVTR / Online
Last updated on 11/01/2016