2 AFP BATTALIONS TO SECURE THE POPE  

Philippine U.N. Peacekeepers. AP file photo. The Philippines has assigned a thousand-strong force that includes its United Nations peacekeepers to guard Pope Francis when he visits the country next January, the military said on Sunday. The papal security force will include 328 soldiers from the 7th Philippine Contingent to the Golan Heights withdrawn from the UN-administered ceasefire line between Israel and Syria after the unit, defying an order to surrender, fought off an attack by Syrian rebels last month.
“We believe that their exposure and experience in peacekeeping operations in Syria will be beneficial [to the security of Pope Francis during his visit to the Philippines],” Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. said in a statement Sunday.

Two battalions of Filipino UN peacekeepers, including those withdrawn from the Golan Heights as well as those who had been training to replace them, will join a police-led security detail for the Pope, Catapang said. An AFP battalion comprises about 500 soldiers. The decision to involve the military in security for the Pope followed reports that Francis will not use a bulletproof vehicle during his Jan. 15-19 visit to the Philippines and an implied threat from the Islamic State (IS) in the Middle East to kill him for calling for international action against the jihadist group.
Abu Sayyaf publicity stunt In July, a faction of the Abu Sayyaf group led by Isnilon Hapilon swore allegiance to IS, which has seized large swaths of northern Iraq and beheaded hostages from Western countries supporting the US-led air campaign to degrade and eventually destroy it. The military has said it does not believe the al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf has direct ties with IS and that the oath of loyalty is merely an expression of sympathy intended more to elevate its profile and for financial gain.*READ MORE...

ALSO: Government taking Islamic State seriously; Alert up for Islamist recruiters from Middle East  

FACEBOOK PHOTO/Malacañan Palace. The government isn’t taking lightly the threat posed by the Islamic State (IS) to the Philippines, Malacañang said on Saturday. So far, the military has maintained that IS has no direct ties with the Abu Sayyaf, which has threatened to behead one of two German hostages it is holding by Oct. 10 unless Germany withdraws its support for a US-led air campaign against the jihadist group that has seized large swaths of Iraq and beheaded Western hostages. If at all, the Abu Sayyaf bandits are sympathizers of IS, joining the bandwagon to gain popular support, according to Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, spokesperson for the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Even so, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said on Saturday, the authorities have been alerted to the possible entry of IS operatives into the Philippines, especially through the southern islands where the Abu Sayyaf operates. Help from MILF  Speaking on government-run radio, Valte said the government was tapping the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which has signed a peace agreement with the government, and civilians to gather and share information to foil the entry of fighters from IS, also known as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis) or Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil). “[W]e assure you that we do not take it lightly. We don’t wish to be dealing with another problem, and another trouble,” Valte said. “The good thing about this is, we’re getting help from our Muslim brothers to ensure that none of these elements [will be able to] slip into the country,” she added.*READ MORE...

ALSO: More troops to be sent to Mindanao amid ISIS recruitment  

More troops will be sent to Western Mindanao following reports that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is recruiting members in the country. Armed Forces chief Gen. Gregorio Catapang Jr. ordered the 501st Infantry Brigade and attached units redeployed from Northern Luzon to strengthen security in the Zamboanga peninsula and the Sulu archipelago. The provinces of Kalinga, Apayao, Mountain Province, Ifugao, Nueva Vizcaya and Benguet and Baguio City are now under the protection of the 5th Infantry Division based in Gamu, Isabela. Public affairs chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said the Armed Forces has already turned over the anti-insurgency operations in these provinces to the local government.

“As a result of this, the Armed Forces is exercising its flexibility by realigning our units so that we can focus our security operations in areas that are more affected by armed conflicts,” he said. Two Army battalions will join the 501st brigade. The 21st Infantry Battalion and the 41st Infantry Battalion will be redeployed in the Zamboanga peninsula and the 501st Brigade headquarters moved to Sulu. It is the second time that troops from the 5th Infantry Division have been sent to Mindanao. In January 2010, the 45th battalion was deployed to Maguindanao.Zagala said the redeployment is part of a plan to deal with internal and external security situations. “Our assurance is that we will all benefit from this move,” he said. A sendoff ceremony was held for the 501st Infantry Brigade and the 41st Infantry Battalion in Cauayan City, Isabela yesterday. THIS IS THE FULL REPORT.

ALSO: Coalition against IS grows; female Arab pilot bombs rebels

PHOTO: ISIL KILLERS — This US Air Forces Central Command photo released by the Defense
Video
and Imagery Distribution System (DVIDS) shows a pair of US Air Force F-15E  Strike Eagles flying over northern Iraq in the early morning of September 23 after conducting airstrikes in Syria against ISIL targets. Beirut – American warplanes and drones hit Islamic State group tanks, Humvees, checkpoints and bunkers in airstrikes Friday targeting the extremists in Syria and Iraq, as the U.S.-led coalition expanded to include Britain, Denmark, and Belgium. The European countries committed to take part only in the Iraq part of the military campaign, leaving the operation in Syria to the United States and five Arab allies who began conducting airstrikes there on Tuesday. Still, the broadening of the coalition provides a welcome boost for President Barack Obama and the American-led campaign.

Britain, Washington’s closest ally in the wars of the last decade, joined the alliance after weeks of weighing its options. Britain’s parliament voted 542 to 43 to back Prime Minister David Cameron’s decision to take part in air strikes in Iraq. Belgium’s parliament also voted 114 to 2 to take part and Denmark said it would send seven F-16 fighter jets and 250 pilots and support staff. Six Belgian F-16s took off for a staging post in Greece even before the vote. The Netherlands is also sending six F-16 jets and will provide 250 military personnel and 130 trainers for the Iraqi military, and Greece said it would send arms to Kurdish forces in Iraq. ‘PSYCHOPATHIC TERRORISTS’ “This is not a threat on the far side of the world. Left unchecked, we will face a terrorist caliphate on the shores of the Mediterranean and bordering a NATO member, with a declared and proven intention to attack our country and our people,” Cameron told British lawmakers.

“This is about psychopathic terrorists that are trying to kill us and we do have to realize that, whether we like it or not, they have already declared war on us,” Prime Minister David Cameron told a tense House of Commons in a more than six-hour debate. “There isn’t a ‘walk on by’ option. There isn’t an option of just hoping this will go away.” In Canada, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the Islamic militant forces operating in Iraq and Syria will launch terrorist attacks around the world unless they are stopped.* READ MORE...

ALSO: 200 Muslim militants from Mindanao joining ISIS – reports 

Authorities are looking into reports that 200 Muslim militants have slipped out of Mindanao
to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighting in Syria and Iraq. An expert on terrorism in Mindanao who spoke on condition of anonymity said he had learned of the “raw” reports which are still subject to validation by military and police intelligence units. The reports said the militants left Mindanao for Somalia to join others at a staging point for groups seeking to join ISIS forces in the Middle East, the expert said.

ISIS, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL), is headed by its self-proclaimed leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who holds a PhD in Islamic studies. The extremist group now controls a large area on the borders of Iraq and Syria which it declared a Muslim Caliphate. Through a video, the ISIS leader called on all Muslims around the world to join his group and obey him as the leader. According to reports, the 200 Muslim militants who allegedly slipped out from Mindanao may be members of the Khalifa Islamiyah Mindanao (KIM), a terrorist group that uses a black flag similar to the ISIS emblem. KIM members are said to be idealistic young Moro fighters who were hosted by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), the group that broke away from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). * READ MORE...

(ALSO) Report: Young Muslim Filipinos have been lured into joining ISIS; Track down ISIS contact – Malacañang 

WORRIED over reports that a member of the Jemaah Islamiyah who is supporting the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is still in the country and could be luring local Muslims to join the extremist group, Malacañang on Sunday said the police and military should verify if the terrorist is indeed in Mindanao and monitor his activities. Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. on Sunday said the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines should track down the alleged ISIS recruiter, a Malaysian, to ensure the people’s safety.

On Saturday, a source from the intelligence service of the PNP identified the Malaysian as Amin Baco, who also goes by the alias Abu Jihad. The source also gave The Manila Times a photo of the alleged JI member. In the photograph, Baco is standing in front of a black flag holding a pistol on his right hand and a dagger on his left.
Coloma said the Palace will ask the AFP and the PNP to verify reports about the presence of Baco in the South.
“We need to verify. In any case, our security agencies are tasked with closely monitoring such activities and to ensure citizens’ safety,” Coloma said in a text message to The Manila Times.

The police intelligence source who asked not to be named said Baco has been in the country for a long time and may have also been involved in several bombing attacks in Basilan and Sulu provinces in Mindanao.Like the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), Baco, who is associated with the Khilafa Islamiyah Movement, has pledged allegiance to the ISIS. His photo was extracted from a mobile phone of one of the ASG members killed during a recent battle with government security forces in Sulu. Baco is believed to be one of the five JI members who had been hiding in Sulu under the protection of the ASG that last week threatened to behead one of two Germans they are holding captive.
The two are Stefan Victor Okonek, 70, and Herike Diesen, 55.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte earlier said the government is working closely with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and other groups in Mindanao to keep ISIS people at bay.“There are many Muslims who are against these elements in Mindanao. They are cooperating with the government to ensure that this doesn’t spread,” she told reporters. Palace spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the government has been addressing poverty in Mindanao to prevent people there from joining extremist groups such as the ISIS.

“The poverty alleviation interventions continue . . But, recruiting [by] ISIS also takes another form. There’s the religious undertone. And so it’s not only about [the situation of the prople of Mindanao], it’s also about, perhaps, an extreme zealousness on the beliefs of ISIS, which they adhere to,” Lacierda added. “We’re doing all these proactive measures and precisely why we’re bringing in the importance of the Bangsamoro Basic Law. Remember, the idea of bringing in aid and coming out with the Bangsamoro Basic Law is some form of affirmative action. This area [Mindanao] has been neglected for so long. We need to step up, we need to provide assistance to this area and that’s why it’s a kind of affirmative action where we bring them up to the level of the other brothers and sisters in other parts of the country,” he said. Alarmed --*READ MORE...


READ FULL REPORT HERE:

2 AFP battalions to secure the Pope


Philippine U.N. Peacekeepers. AP file photo

SEPTEMBER 29, 2014 (INQUIRER) By Julie M. Aurelio – The Philippines has assigned a thousand-strong force that includes its United Nations peacekeepers to guard Pope Francis when he visits the country next January, the military said on Sunday.

The papal security force will include 328 soldiers from the 7th Philippine Contingent to the Golan Heights withdrawn from the UN-administered ceasefire line between Israel and Syria after the unit, defying an order to surrender, fought off an attack by Syrian rebels last month.

“We believe that their exposure and experience in peacekeeping operations in Syria will be beneficial [to the security of Pope Francis during his visit to the Philippines],” Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. said in a statement Sunday.

Two battalions of Filipino UN peacekeepers, including those withdrawn from the Golan Heights as well as those who had been training to replace them, will join a police-led security detail for the Pope, Catapang said.

An AFP battalion comprises about 500 soldiers.

The decision to involve the military in security for the Pope followed reports that Francis will not use a bulletproof vehicle during his Jan. 15-19 visit to the Philippines and an implied threat from the Islamic State (IS) in the Middle East to kill him for calling for international action against the jihadist group.

Abu Sayyaf publicity stunt

In July, a faction of the Abu Sayyaf group led by Isnilon Hapilon swore allegiance to IS, which has seized large swaths of northern Iraq and beheaded hostages from Western countries supporting the US-led air campaign to degrade and eventually destroy it.

The military has said it does not believe the al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf has direct ties with IS and that the oath of loyalty is merely an expression of sympathy intended more to elevate its profile and for financial gain.

* National Security Adviser Cesar Garcia said on Saturday that the Abu Sayyaf pledge was a “shallow show of support” for IS, riding on the popularity of the Middle East group in the international jihadi community.

Border security tightened

Still, the government said it was not taking the IS threat lightly and that it had ordered the tightening of border security and tapped the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which has signed a peace agreement with the government, and civilians for the gathering and sharing of information to block the entry of IS operatives into the Philippines.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said Pope Francis would visit survivors of Super Typhoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan) in Tacloban City, Leyte province.

Yolanda ravaged central Philippines on Nov. 8 last year, leaving about 7,300 people dead and thousands homeless.

Unprotected vehicle

Francis will eat a meal with the survivors, traveling to them in an unprotected vehicle.

During his visit to South Korea in August, Francis also ditched the bulletproof Popemobile, choosing to ride in an ordinary,
Korean-made car.

Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle has said the Pope does not use a bulletproof vehicle, even in the Vatican.

Some politicians have said the information may be exploited by the Abu Sayyaf, prompting the government to order “double security” for the Pope during his visit to the country.

Police-led security

Catapang said the AFP committed the two battalions to support the Philippine National Police in providing security for the Pope.

He said the military force would be under the operational control of the PNP, which would be in charge of overall security for the four-day papal visit.–With reports from Inquirer Research and AFP

Government taking Islamic State seriously; Alert up for Islamist recruiters from ME By TJ A. Burgonio |Philippine Daily Inquirer1:39 am | Sunday, September 28th, 2014


FACEBOOK PHOTO/Malacañan Palace

The government isn’t taking lightly the threat posed by the Islamic State (IS) to the Philippines, Malacañang said on Saturday.

So far, the military has maintained that IS has no direct ties with the Abu Sayyaf, which has threatened to behead one of two German hostages it is holding by Oct. 10 unless Germany withdraws its support for a US-led air campaign against the jihadist group that has seized large swaths of Iraq and beheaded Western hostages.

If at all, the Abu Sayyaf bandits are sympathizers of IS, joining the bandwagon to gain popular support, according to Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, spokesperson for the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Even so, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said on Saturday, the authorities have been alerted to the possible entry of IS operatives into the Philippines, especially through the southern islands where the Abu Sayyaf operates.

Help from MILF

Speaking on government-run radio, Valte said the government was tapping the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which has signed a peace agreement with the government, and civilians to gather and share information to foil the entry of fighters from IS, also known as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis) or Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).

“[W]e assure you that we do not take it lightly. We don’t wish to be dealing with another problem, and another trouble,” Valte said.

“The good thing about this is, we’re getting help from our Muslim brothers to ensure that none of these elements [will be able to] slip into the country,” she added.

* Valte said the government would verify with the military reports that France had raised its “vigilance alert” against IS to 40 countries with Muslim populations, including the Philippines.

France reportedly raised the vigilance alert after IS-linked militants beheaded French national Herve Gourdel in Algeria on Thursday.

Tighter entry procedures

The Bureau of Immigration has also tightened entry procedures for foreigners coming from the Middle East and Africa following reports that IS is recruiting fighters in Asia.

“We are not on red alert status, but we are paying careful attention to them,” Immigration Commissioner Siegfrid Mison said in a television interview on Saturday, referring to possible IS recruiters.

By “careful attention,” Mison said he meant the travel histories and plans of the passengers coming from troubled places in the Middle East and Africa would be thoroughly examined by immigration officers.

In case of doubt, he said, a traveler will be referred to a “secondary inspection,” meaning closer interrogation.

“There will be more questions and it may take more time than usual,” Mison said.

Mison said the immigration bureau had contacted international organizations to obtain a list of people associated with IS.

Swearing loyalty to IS

An Abu Sayyaf group led by Isnilon Hapilon swore allegiance to IS on YouTube in July, the latest sign, according to a report released by a security group last week, that the Middle East jihadist group’s brand of radicalism is winning recruits in Asia and posing a growing security risk in the region.

But National Security Adviser Cesar Garcia said on Saturday that Hapilon’s pledge of allegiance to the Islamic State was a “shallow show of support” for IS, riding on the popularity of the Middle East group in the international jihadi community.
“We have no reports of other factions doing the same,” Garcia said in a text message to the Inquirer.

According to Garcia, the Abu Sayyaf is not a “monolithic group,” as it is composed of several subgroups that have either “religious or ideological moorings” or criminal inclinations.

“We don’t think there is an organizational link between [IS] and [the Abu Sayyaf], or any Philippine terrorist [or] jihadi group for that matter,” he said.

“What is possible, however, is that through social [media], individual jihadists in the Philippines are in touch with jihadists elsewhere, some of whom may belong to any of the affiliates of al-Qaida or even [Islamic State],” he added.

Asian recruits

Security officials believe that more than 100 people from Southeast Asia’s Muslim-majority countries of Indonesia and Malaysia and from the southern Philippines have gone to join Islamic State’s fight in Iraq and Syria.

According to the security report, Malaysian and Indonesian militants have discussed forming a 100-strong, Malay-speaking unit within Islamic State in Syria.

On Thursday, Adm. Samuel Locklear, who heads the US Armed Forces’ Pacific Command, said around 1,000 recruits from India to the Pacific may have joined Islamic State to fight in Syria or Iraq. But he did not specify the countries or give a time frame.

“That number could get larger as we go forward,” Locklear told reporters at the Pentagon.

In addition to India, the Hawaii-based Pacific Command’s area of responsibility covers 36 countries, including Australia, China and other Pacific Ocean states. The command does not cover Pakistan.

In the region, security analysts say, thousands have sworn oaths of loyalty to IS as local militant groups capitalize on a brand that has been fueled by violent online videos and calls to jihad through social media. Security officials say this has disturbing implications for the region, especially when battle-hardened fighters return home from the Middle East.

No negotiations

The Abu Sayyaf group that threatened to kill a German hostage unless Germany withdraws its support for the US-led coalition bombing IS targets in Syria and Iraq is led by one-armed septuagenarian Radullan Sahiron.

Sahiron’s group is also demanding $5.6 million in ransom for the two German hostages, whom the bandits seized from a yacht in the West Philippine Sea in April.

But the government has refused to step in, with Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin saying “the government does not negotiate with terrorists.” With reports from Niña P. Calleja

FROM PHILSTAR

More troops to be sent to Mindanao amid ISIS recruitment By Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 29, 2014 - 12:00am 3 7 googleplus0 3


Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has expressed extreme worry Davao Muslims said to have been recruited by a Middle East terror group could return to Davao to sow violence after their stint in Syria and Iraq. Duterte said he has received information the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has lured young Dabawenyo Muslims to train and join to fight its war to establish a separate caliphate (Muslim state) in the two Middle East countries. PHOTO AND NEWSBIT FROM DURIANBURGDAVAO.WORDPRESS.COM

MANILA, Philippines - More troops will be sent to Western Mindanao following reports that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is recruiting members in the country.

Armed Forces chief Gen. Gregorio Catapang Jr. ordered the 501st Infantry Brigade and attached units redeployed from Northern Luzon to strengthen security in the Zamboanga peninsula and the Sulu archipelago.

The provinces of Kalinga, Apayao, Mountain Province, Ifugao, Nueva Vizcaya and Benguet and Baguio City are now under the protection of the 5th Infantry Division based in Gamu, Isabela.

Public affairs chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said the Armed Forces has already turned over the anti-insurgency operations in these provinces to the local government.

“As a result of this, the Armed Forces is exercising its flexibility by realigning our units so that we can focus our security operations in areas that are more affected by armed conflicts,” he said.

Two Army battalions will join the 501st brigade.

The 21st Infantry Battalion and the 41st Infantry Battalion will be redeployed in the Zamboanga peninsula and the 501st Brigade headquarters moved to Sulu.

It is the second time that troops from the 5th Infantry Division have been sent to Mindanao.

In January 2010, the 45th battalion was deployed to Maguindanao.

Zagala said the redeployment is part of a plan to deal with internal and external security situations.

“Our assurance is that we will all benefit from this move,” he said.

A sendoff ceremony was held for the 501st Infantry Brigade and the 41st Infantry Battalion in Cauayan City, Isabela yesterday.

FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

Coalition against IS grows; female Arab pilot bombs rebels by Reuters, AP and AFP September 28, 2014 Share this:


ISIL KILLERS — This US Air Forces Central Command photo released by the Defense Video and Imagery Distribution System (DVIDS) shows a pair of US Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles flying over northern Iraq in the early morning of September 23 after conducting airstrikes in Syria against ISIL targets.

ISIL KILLERS — This US Air Forces Central Command photo released by the Defense Video and Imagery Distribution System (DVIDS) shows a pair of US Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles flying over northern Iraq in the early morning of September 23 after conducting airstrikes in Syria against ISIL targets.

Beirut – American warplanes and drones hit Islamic State group tanks, Humvees, checkpoints and bunkers in airstrikes Friday targeting the extremists in Syria and Iraq, as the U.S.-led coalition expanded to include Britain, Denmark, and Belgium. The European countries committed to take part only in the Iraq part of the military campaign, leaving the operation in Syria to the United States and five Arab allies who began conducting airstrikes there on Tuesday. Still, the broadening of the coalition provides a welcome boost for President Barack Obama and the American-led campaign.

Britain, Washington’s closest ally in the wars of the last decade, joined the alliance after weeks of weighing its options. Britain’s parliament voted 542 to 43 to back Prime Minister David Cameron’s decision to take part in air strikes in Iraq.

Belgium’s parliament also voted 114 to 2 to take part and Denmark said it would send seven F-16 fighter jets and 250 pilots and support staff. Six Belgian F-16s took off for a staging post in Greece even before the vote.

The Netherlands is also sending six F-16 jets and will provide 250 military personnel and 130 trainers for the Iraqi military, and Greece said it would send arms to Kurdish forces in Iraq.

‘PSYCHOPATHIC TERRORISTS’

“This is not a threat on the far side of the world. Left unchecked, we will face a terrorist caliphate on the shores of the Mediterranean and bordering a NATO member, with a declared and proven intention to attack our country and our people,” Cameron told British lawmakers. “This is about psychopathic terrorists that are trying to kill us and we do have to realize that, whether we like it or not, they have already declared war on us,” Prime Minister David Cameron told a tense House of Commons in a more than six-hour debate. “There isn’t a ‘walk on by’ option. There isn’t an option of just hoping this will go away.”

In Canada, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the Islamic militant forces operating in Iraq and Syria will launch terrorist attacks around the world unless they are stopped

* Around 70 Canadian military advisors are already in the region and Canadian transport planes have delivered weapons to Kurdish and Iraqi forces. Harper says he is considering a US request for more help against the militants.

LOCAL SUPPORT NEEDED

The Pentagon said air strikes – which continued for a fifth day in Syria – had disrupted lucrative oil-pumping operations that have helped fund the militants, but that a final victory, perhaps years away, would need local boots on the ground.

The White House welcomed the new European countries recruited to the Iraq operation, who are expected to add a total of 19 fighter jets in the air campaign.

That would free up more US air power to strike targets in Syria, where American jets are already flying with warplanes from four allied Arab countries.

Until this week France was the only Western country to answer President Barack Obama’s call to join the campaign. Australia and the Netherlands joined Monday. On Friday Germany expressed support for the mission but said it would not send an aircraft.

Obama has sought international support for a military coalition against Islamic State, a powerful force in Syria which swept across northern Iraq in June, slaughtering prisoners and ordering Shi’ites and non-Muslims to convert or die.

‘A WOMAN BOMBED YOU’

Unknown to the militants below, the first female air force pilot in the United Arab Emirates – F-16 pilot Maj. Mariam al-Mansouri led the Arab strike against the jihadist group, with many users in social media taking delight in the rebuke it implied toward the militants’ ultraconservative ideology.

UAE Ambassador to Washington Yousef al-Otaiba in his first public confirmation of al-Mansouri’s role said, “she is a fully qualified, highly trained, combat-ready pilot, and she led the mission.”

Al-Mansouri was born in Abu Dhabi and graduated from the country’s Khalifa bin Zayed Air College in 2007, according to the government-owned newspaper The National. She is one of eight children and has a degree in English literature.

“Sorry #ISIS, I know this too much and so harsh but it’s real,” taunted Twitter user @kafrev. “A woman bombed you!”

Emirati leaders have taken steps to raise the status of women in the oil-rich country, which has modernized rapidly since its formation in 1971 and is now home to a cosmopolitan blend of foreign businesspeople, expatriate professionals and low-paid migrant workers who together far outnumber the local population.

The air campaign has yet to halt Islamic State’s advance in Syria, where fighters have laid siege to a Kurdish town on the Turkish border, sending 140,000 refugees across the frontier since last week in the fastest exodus of the three-and-a-half-year-old civil war. The militants have employed brute force to achieve their goals, massacring captured Syrian and Iraqi troops, terrorizing minorities in both countries and beheading two American journalists and a British aid worker.

Coalition planes pounded a dozen makeshift oil-producing facilities in efforts to cripple one of the militants’ primary sources of cash – black market oil sales that the US says produce up to $2 million a day.

In Iraq, IS militants are changing tactics, ditching conspicuous convoys in favor of motorcycles and planting their black flags on civilian homes to confuse target spotters.

200 Muslim militants from Mindanao joining ISIS – reports by Elena L. Aben July 9, 2014 Share this:


Flag of terror. A propaganda photo of the Khilafa Islamiya Mindanao shows a masked aide of Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon waving the black flag of the terror group Islamic State in 2012. PHOTO FROM THRE MANILA STANDARD

Authorities are looking into reports that 200 Muslim militants have slipped out of Mindanao to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighting in Syria and Iraq.

An expert on terrorism in Mindanao who spoke on condition of anonymity said he had learned of the “raw” reports which are still subject to validation by military and police intelligence units.

The reports said the militants left Mindanao for Somalia to join others at a staging point for groups seeking to join ISIS forces in the Middle East, the expert said.

ISIS, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL), is headed by its self-proclaimed leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who holds a PhD in Islamic studies.

The extremist group now controls a large area on the borders of Iraq and Syria which it declared a Muslim Caliphate.

Through a video, the ISIS leader called on all Muslims around the world to join his group and obey him as the leader.

According to reports, the 200 Muslim militants who allegedly slipped out from Mindanao may be members of the Khalifa Islamiyah Mindanao (KIM), a terrorist group that uses a black flag similar to the ISIS emblem.

KIM members are said to be idealistic young Moro fighters who were hosted by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), the group that broke away from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

* But a security official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, dismissed the reports of Muslims from Mindanao joining the ISIS.

“What I heard is that there are 200 Australian Muslims who are fighting side by side with ISIS, that’s Australian Muslims, no Flipinos,” he said.

He said there are many Filipinos in both Syria and Iraq but they are overseas Filipino workers employed in government facilities.

“They are not fighting with the rebels. Wala tayong Muslim galing dito na pumunta doon to fight alongside with the rebels,” he said.

The reports about the militants travelling to the Middle East came days after a Malaysian newspaper reported about the existence of four new terrorist organizations aiming to establish an Islamic Caliphate in Southeast Asia that would include Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, southern Thailand and southern Philippines.

Malaysia’s New Straits Times claimed the new groups, which mutated from terror cells such as the Jemaah Islamiyah and the Kumpulan Mujahidin Malaysia, have embarked on aggressive recruitment drive for members.

FROM THE MANILA TIMES

Report: Young Muslim Filipinos have been lured into joining ISIS; Track down ISIS contact – Malacañang September 28, 2014 11:44 pm
by JOEL M. SY EGCO SENIOR REPORTER AND MOH I. SAADUDDIN CORRESPONDENT WITH A REPORT FROM BERNICE CAMILLE V. BAUZON


MALACANAN PALACE

WORRIED over reports that a member of the Jemaah Islamiyah who is supporting the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is still in the country and could be luring local Muslims to join the extremist group, Malacañang on Sunday said the police and military should verify if the terrorist is indeed in Mindanao and monitor his activities.

Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. on Sunday said the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines should track down the alleged ISIS recruiter, a Malaysian, to ensure the people’s safety.

On Saturday, a source from the intelligence service of the PNP identified the Malaysian as Amin Baco, who also goes by the alias Abu Jihad. The source also gave The Manila Times a photo of the alleged JI member. In the photograph, Baco is standing in front of a black flag holding a pistol on his right hand and a dagger on his left.

Coloma said the Palace will ask the AFP and the PNP to verify reports about the presence of Baco in the South.

“We need to verify. In any case, our security agencies are tasked with closely monitoring such activities and to ensure citizens’ safety,” Coloma said in a text message to The Manila Times.

The police intelligence source who asked not to be named said Baco has been in the country for a long time and may have also been involved in several bombing attacks in Basilan and Sulu provinces in Mindanao.

Like the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), Baco, who is associated with the Khilafa Islamiyah Movement, has pledged allegiance to the ISIS. His photo was extracted from a mobile phone of one of the ASG members killed during a recent battle with government security forces in Sulu.

Baco is believed to be one of the five JI members who had been hiding in Sulu under the protection of the ASG that last week threatened to behead one of two Germans they are holding captive.

The two are Stefan Victor Okonek, 70, and Herike Diesen, 55.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte earlier said the government is working closely with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and other groups in Mindanao to keep ISIS people at bay.

“There are many Muslims who are against these elements in Mindanao. They are cooperating with the government to ensure that this doesn’t spread,” she told reporters.

Palace spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the government has been addressing poverty in Mindanao to prevent people there from joining extremist groups such as the ISIS.

“The poverty alleviation interventions continue . . But, recruiting [by] ISIS also takes another form. There’s the religious undertone. And so it’s not only about [the situation of the prople of Mindanao], it’s also about, perhaps, an extreme zealousness on the beliefs of ISIS, which they adhere to,” Lacierda added.

“We’re doing all these proactive measures and precisely why we’re bringing in the importance of the Bangsamoro Basic Law. Remember, the idea of bringing in aid and coming out with the Bangsamoro Basic Law is some form of affirmative action. This area [Mindanao] has been neglected for so long. We need to step up, we need to provide assistance to this area and that’s why it’s a kind of affirmative action where we bring them up to the level of the other brothers and sisters in other parts of the country,” he said.

Alarmed

* Local officials in Maguindanao province, also in Mindanao, are also worried over reports that young Muslim Filipinos have been lured into joining ISIS.

A mayor in the province of Basilan, Joel Maturan, earlier confirmed that some young people joined the ISIS in exchange for money and weapons.

“If this [report] is true, then our authorities must implement more stringent measures to put a stop to this practice [ideology] of using our youth in senseless activities,” Maguindanao 2nd District Assemblyman Khadaffy “Toy” Mangudadatu said over the weekend.

“Our children must stay in school, not to fight for causes beyond their understanding,” Mangudadatu added.

In Marawi City, Lanao del Sur, another component area of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, photos seized by officials on September 19 showed a group of civilians with their children participating doing bai-ah or pledge of allegiance to the ISIS’s caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Governors of Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur earlier urged Muslims not to join extremist groups.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) also vowed to prevent the spread of the contagious “virus” that the ISIS is spreading.

ISIS was branded by international communities as terrorist for its acts of barbarism like beheadings, suicide bombings and mass killings.

Ridiculous

Meanwhile, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) described as “ridiculous” reports that 100 Filipinos trained in Iran to fight alongside the anti-government group in Syria and to engage in extremist activities, according to the Iranian Embassy in Manila.

In an interview last week, Iranian Ambassador to Manila Ali Asghar Mohammadi said his office submitted a note verbale to the department, clarifying a leaked report that cited a memorandum from the Foreign Affairs agency to President Benigno Aquino 3rd.

He added that during his embassy’s discussion with the DFA-Office of the Undersecretary for Middle East and African Affairs, the department rejected the reports and said they were “ridiculous.”

The department is investigating how it was leaked to the media, the envoy said.

The envoy also denied the memorandum that said Iran has been the training ground for some 100 Filipinos recruited by the jihadist movement in Syria.

“We clearly and categorically deny reports like that. [They are] totally false. It was wrong information. That is impossible,” he said.

“We believe something wrong happened in the report. Maybe the name of the country was mistakenly reported,” Mohammadi added.

The note verbale was submitted last week amid reports that a confidential DFA memorandum was cited in a report from Camp Crame, naming Iran as a destination for Filipinos who want to join the extremist movement in Syria.

The leaked two-page memorandum dated March 20, 2014 reported the recruitment of Filipinos to the President.

It said “100 Filipinos who traveled to Iran had undergone military training and were deployed to Syria” to join other foreign fighters.

The Iranain envoy is asking the DFA to correct the information, “so that our public image will be changed.”

“They [DFA] know better than us that this is not true. These are all accusations. They should correct . . . they should help us get out from this situation,” the ambassador told reporters.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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