Date: May 16, 2019
Philippines (MNN) – ISIS’s control in the Middle East is dwindling. It has been weakened, but now it looks like the terror group is shifting its forces back into the Philippines as a hub to regain its strength. This is a similar tactic to one al-Qaeda used after they were weakened in the Middle East. Later, after regrouping and rebuilding, a faction of al-Qaeda returned under the name of ISIS.
Extremist Ideology of ISIS
“I think you can expect this extremist ideology to keep popping up under different identities because what we identify in our World Watch List as one of the major trends is the spread of Islamic extremism, and what we mean by that is the ideology, the ideas which have populated and spread throughout the world so that when ISIS is defeated in one area, [it] does not mean that the ideology, that the theology, that the founding principles of ISIS don’t exist anymore,” Open Doors USA’s David Curry says.
“They don’t need a territory to spread their ideas. These ideas now exist in Asia, in Africa, as well as the Middle East.”
Curry says the extremist ideology is dangerous as it revolves around the exclusivity of Islam and using Sharia Law to force others to follow their way of thinking.
The Philippines are a prime example of this; extremist ideology is spreading across the Catholic-majority nation.
“You have extremists in Asia that want to push forward the theology of ISIS, take over territory, kill people, and try to push back the development of social ideas to their very medieval sort of way of seeing things,” Curry says.
ISIS in the Philippines
Smaller and local terror groups, like the militant group Abu Sayyaf, have started to pledge loyalty to ISIS and carried out attacks in their name.
In January, Abu Sayyaf bombed the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Cathedral in Jolo, where officials reported 20 people were killed.
Attacks have also been consistently carried out over the last two years in the Marawi area by ISIS fighters.
The attacks and tactics that ISIS is using remind Curry of “what we saw in northern Iraq, in the previous eight, nine months before ISIS bolted out onto the scene. You have these incidents of violence where they’re gathering strength, they’re getting dollars and recruits through these acts of violence, and then they take over an entire region.”
This appears to be exactly what ISIS is attempting to do in the Philippines, starting in Marawi, though the US Department of Defense Office of Inspector General reports that there hasn’t been a specific trend the group is following. ISIS remains weakened and does not seem to be growing in numbers so far.
Pray for the safety of people in the Philippines. Pray for the wisdom of the government, that they would know how to address the issue, and pray that the terrorist activities would be squelched.
Header photo courtesy of Open Doors USA via Facebook.