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CONTINUING JIHADIST ISLAMIC THREATS (ISIS) (Last of Two Parts)


“Inter-agency cooperation amongst the DILG, DND, DFA;

local and international intelligence communities,

including the Intelligence Service of the AFP (ISAFP),

Presidential Security Group (PSG), and the PNP Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) with their counterparts – Interpol, the Vatican

and U.S. intelligence agencies – proved to be the right mix

that prevented a mega-disaster for the Philippines during Pope John Paul II’s visit…” -  former DILG Secretary Raffy Alunan III, BusinessWorld, 29 April 2014

 

In the fascination, single-mindedness and preoccupation of Filipinos with politics and show business (and an unholy combination thereof), Government officials, especially our LGUs, may be neglecting some creeping threats to national security and to our people’s welfare and well-being.

IN LAST WEEK’S INSTALLMENT, WE WARNED THAT, HAVING PERHAPS THE LONGEST-RUNNING EXPERIENCE IN COUNTERING LARGE-SCALE ISLAMIST INSURGENCY LEADING TO A SEPARATE STATE, THE PHILIPPINES CANNOT AFFORD TO REMAIN JUST “LAID BACK” OR “UNFAZED” IN REGARD TO THE SPREADING ISIS VIRUS – WHICH HAS SHOWN SAVAGE EXAMPLES OF MASS EXECUTIONS, ETHNIC CLEANSING AND BEHEADINGS.

THESE DAYS, BEING “UNFAZED” APPEARS TO BE MALACAÑANG’S FAVORITE POSITION INSTEAD OF “BEING CONCERNED”. WE MUST, HOWEVER, TREAT ANY INFORMATION RE THE ISIS, ISIL OR THE “CALIPHATE STATE” SERIOUSLY AND WITH DISPATCH.  FILIPINOS STILL HAVE THE VISIT OF POPE FRANCIS VISIT TO PREPARE FOR AND MANAGE COME JANUARY 2015 – AND ALL OF US MUST BE READY TO DO A GOOD JOB IN INSURING THE HOLY FATHER’S RESOUNDING SUCCESS --- AND NOT THE LEAST --- HIS SAFETY EVERY STEP OF THE WAY IN OUR COUNTRY.

REMEMBER POPE JOHN PAUL II IN 1995???   BECAUSE FILIPINOS DID A THOROUGH, COMMENDABLE JOB AT THAT TIME, THE HOLY FATHER LIVED ON….  LONG ENOUGH TO BECOME A SAINT!!!

Saint John Paul II was targeted for assassination in the Philippines in January 1995 by the al-Qaeda working with other Islamic extremists in our country --- and likewise targeted earlier were the U.S. and Philippine Presidents. Fortunately, good luck plus 24/7 intelligence coordination, plus close local and international teamwork foiled al-Qaeda’s “Oplan Bojinka” to create havoc during Pope John Paul II’s 10th World Youth Day visit to Manila.

Terrorism in The Age of Globalization

It might be helpful at this time to keep our people well informed of the nature of the ISIS/ISIL/Caliphate State threats spreading from the Middle East to other regions. Take, for instance, the observations of Dr. Christina Lin, Fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations at SAIS-Johns Hopkins University, Washington D.C., entitled “ISIS Pivots To Asia”, (16 August): 

“IN THIS AGE OF GLOBALIZATION, TERRORISM IS A VIRULENT CONTAGION THAT IS SPREADING QUICKLY AND DISREGARDING BORDERS.  AND, ISIS IS PIVOTING TO ASIA ALONG WITH THE U.S.

 “As The Guardian astutely reports, the war being fought in Syria and Iraq ‘has the potential to spread worldwide.’ It is not an accident that many ISIS fighters are foreigners ... Of the 10,000 estimated ISIS fighters, about 3,000 hold European passports, with additional fighters from the U.S., Turkey, Russia, China, Central and Southeast Asia.

“With the preoccupation of international media in the Hamas-Israeli conflict, there has been scant Western press coverage of terrorism in Asia. However, the jihadist threat is real in Asia….

“Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim-majority country with nearly 250 million people.  With over 87% of the population being Muslims, Indonesia is a prime target for ISIS with many terrorist cells breeding domestically like Jemaah Islamiya.”

Danger From Returning Jihadist Alumni

 The main danger for Indonesia, Southeast Asia, U.S., Europe and other regions is the return of ‘jihadist alumni’ to plan attacks in their homelands.

Continues Dr. Lin : “Ambassador Philip Goldberg, former Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (now U.S. Envoy to the Philippines), said ‘this has been a troubling moment as ISIS, which went up into Syria to fight jihad there, are returning to their roots in Iraq with many foreign fighters in tow – including those who may be there from East Asia or other places in the world, including the U. S.’

“Indeed, key jihadists from the 2002 Bali bombings are Afghan veterans of the 1980s and 1990s, receiving direct training with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in the Philippines that also harbors another al-Qaeda affiliate, the Abu Sayyaf Group domiciled in the island of Mindanao where most of the country’s 10.3 million Muslim population live.  Abu Sayyaf has been involved in bloody attacks and kidnappings in the Philippines and Malaysia.

“Thus the ISIS threat is pivoting to Southeast Asia in Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Cambodia, and especially Indonesia, where thousands of extremists are openly pledging allegiance to ISIS, flying its flags and openly recruiting jihadists in mosques.

 “Prior to August, it was legal in Indonesia to join or raise money for a foreign jihadist group, although terrorist attacks are punishable by death.  However, the Jakarta government in August officially banned ISIS and the proselytizing of its teachings.

“Terrorism is also pivoting to Northeast Asia in China’s Xinjiang, Japan and South Korea.  In a 04 July speech in Mosul, ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi urged Muslims around the world to pledge their allegiance to him especially where ‘Muslim rights are forcibly seized in China, India, Palestine’ and more than a dozen other countries and regions.” 

Australia and ASEAN

Hannah Suh, Program Coordinator for Asia-Pacific Security of the Washington-based Center for A New American Security, writes (19 August):  “Southeast Asia’s history of homegrown terrorist groups heightens concerns of IS’ spillover effect.  The demographics of the region itself contribute to the fear of a revival of militant Islam. Nearly 62% of the world’s Muslim population lives in the Asia-Pacific – Indonesia being the world’s largest Muslim nation….

“The return of experienced fighters to their homeland is a larger security threat with serious ramifications.  These jihadists could ‘rekindle the domestic terrorist threat by developing new connections with well-funded, armed, and organized jihadi groups in the Middle East,’ according to Sri Yunanto, adviser to Indonesia’s National Counter-Terrorism Agency.

“The threat of terrorism is not isolated to Southeast Asia but has also reached Australia.  The graphic picture of Australian terrorist Khaled Sharrouf’s young son holding the severed head of a soldier in Syria has only further emphasized the rampant spread and persistence of terrorism outside of the Middle East.  Once again, the threat of returning jihadists planning attacks is prevalent in Australia. 

 “A recent press conference by China’s special envoy for the Middle East is evidence, according to some scholars, that China is watching the Middle East closely and is aware of its influence, specifically on the Xinjiang region.  

“THE IMPORTANCE OF INDIVIDUAL COUNTRIES’ COUNTERTERRORISM STRATEGIES CANNOT BE UNDERSTATED.  HOWEVER, A REGIONAL RESPONSE IS EQUALLY IMPORTANT.  THE ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS COULD HELP FILL THIS GAP.”

With Malaysia assuming the ASEAN chairmanship in 2015 amidst reports that IS is directly recruiting in Malaysia, hopefully the resurgence of terrorism in the region will serve as an impetus for ASEAN to take effective action.

“There Is No Life Without Jihad”

Just last week, Agence France Presse reported (29 August):  “Malaysian police have foiled plans for a wave of bombings drawn up by radical Islamic militants inspired by Iraq's extremist ISIS jihadists.  The 19 suspected militants arrested from April-June in Malaysia were formulating plans to bomb pubs, discos and a brewery of Danish beer producer Carlsberg, said Ayob Khan Mydin, Deputy Chief of the Malaysian Police Counter-Terrorism Division.

“Further, he said that the group (all Malaysians) had visions of establishing a hardline Southeast Asian Islamic Caliphate spanning Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and Singapore.  The plotters included professionals and two housewives….“They planned ‘a campaign of violence and armed struggle and to die as martyrs.’

On the other hand, Luke Hunt, Southeast Asia correspondent for The Diplomat and former bureau chief for Agence France-Presse in Cambodia and Afghanistan during the Taliban occupation, observes (07 July):  The threat of Islamic militants deploying terror across Southeast Asia is making an unwelcome comeback.  Driven in part by the relentless drive into Iraq by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the threat has already emerged in Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand and the Philippines.

“Authorities in these countries fear that home-grown Islamic militants in league with Baghdadi and ISIS will return and plot their own caliphate, not unlike what JI did when it launched its own terror campaign in league with al-Qaeda more than a decade ago.

“Arrests were made in Malaysia amid reports that four new terrorist groups have emerged to stake a claim over much of mainland Southeast Asia.  Police are also looking for another five Malaysian men who fled to the Philippines where they are believed hiding with the Abu Sayyaf.  The arrests followed the release of a video from ISIS senior clerics, titled ‘There Is No Life Without Jihad.’

 The New Straits Times reported the four terror groups were independent of each other but subscribed to similar ideologies of JI, al-Qaeda and ISIS. Like their predecessors, they held links to militants in the Southern Philippines, in particular the Abu Sayyaf.

“Gavin Greenwood, regional security analyst with Hong Kong-based Allan & Associates opined recently :  ‘ISIS’ success has attracted and no doubt will continue to attract recruits to the movement’. He also drew comparisons with Soviet-occupied Afghanistan in the 1980s when the U.S. and other Western countries supported the mujahideen (which included the likes of Osama bin Laden), saying the current dynamics are ‘analogous to those who fought’ there, back then.”

SUMMING UP: 

THERE ARE INDEED ENOUGH REPORTS FROM THE MIDDLE EAST AND ELSEWHERE THAT SHOW THE CONNECTIONS (AND EXPERIENCES) OF JIHADIST EXTREMISTS WITH THE PHILIPPINES.  IT’S TIME FOR OUR ENTIRE OFFICIALDOM AND CONCERNED CITIZENS TO BE DULY WARNED!!!

BEHEADING CAPTIVES IS AN ISIS TERROR STRATEGY, BUT ISN’T NEW TO THE ABU SAYYAF.   ASK THE RELATIVES OF HAJI ALDAM, A MEMBER OF THE SPECIAL CIVILIAN ARMED AUXILIARY (SCAA) OF BASILAN, WHO WAS CAPTURED BY THE ABUS LAST 30 AUGUST --- THEN BEHEADED.

IN RECENT NEWS, LIKEWISE, ARE STORIES OF GOVERNMENT FUNCTIONARIES WHO MAY HAVE ALREADY LOST THEIR HEADS --- OR ARE ABOUT TO --- BECAUSE OF THEIR GREED, EXTRAVAGANCE AND CORRUPTION.

‘NUFF SAID!!! DECAPITATION, ANYONE???

Please send any comments to fvr@rpdev.org.  Copies of articles are available at www.rpdev.org.

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