Islamic State threatens Mindanao, Philippines tells Asean

KUALA LUMPUR – Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario bared yesterday before the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) reports of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) threat to the Philippines through the Black Flag Movement in Mindanao.

Speaking before ASEAN foreign ministers, Del Rosario said the ISIS threat to Philippine security is real rather than imagined because of the Black Flag Movement’s pledge of allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

“We will contribute in the fight against extremism, terrorism and crimes against humanity by engaging or cooperating with other countries in the areas of information sharing, joint investigations, educational campaigns, humanitarian assistance to victims, restricting flow of funds intended to finance terrorism, supporting resolutions aimed at curbing terrorism and enhancing local legislation to address terrorism,” he said.

ISIS has followers among the Abu Sayyaf, Rajah Solaiman Islamic Movement, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and the Khilafa Islamiyah Mindanao or the Black Flag Movement, according  to the presentation of Rommel Banlaoi, Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research (PIPVTR) chairman of the board, and director of the Center for Intelligence and National Security Studies (CINSS).

The ASEAN is expected to come up with a Declaration on Global Movement of Moderates to curb extremism and terrorism in the region.

Del Rosario said he would like to stress that the Philippines remains steadfast in cooperating with ASEAN, the United Nations and all other countries in confronting extremism and radical violence.

“The Philippines condemns war crimes and crimes against humanity being perpetrated by ISIS,” he said. “We have co-sponsored UN (United Nations) Security Council Resolution 2178 on Foreign Terrorist Fighters and supported the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Statement on the Violence and Brutality Committed By Extremist Organizations in Iraq and Syria.”

Banlaoi said ISIS has been posing a serious threat to global security following the killing in a US operation of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011.

“Otherwise known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), now recently called by its followers as Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham,” he said.