MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief General Eduardo Año said they did not monitor the supposed entry of Indonesian-born Islamic State (ISIS) fighter Bahrun Naim in the Philippines to link up with local terrorist groups.
Bahrun Naim is reportedly a founding member of Katibah Nusantara, the grouping of Southeast Asian fighters in Syria. He was tagged by the Indonesian Police to be behind the terrorist attacks in Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, in January.
“We don’t have any report of his presence here. But I’ll have it checked,” Año told Rappler in a text message on Sunday, December 18.
Inspector General Boy Rafli Amar, Head of the Indonesian Police Public Relations Division in Jakarta claimed on Thursday, December 15, that Bahrun Naim and a number of ISIS fighters have been assigned to move to the Philippines. (READ: Indonesian police: ISIS wants Bahrun Naim to set up base in southern Philippines)
But analysts emphasize he is not there yet. Sydney Jones, the director of a Jakarta-based think tank tracking terrorists in Southeast Asia, said it is “not true” he is already in the Philippines.
@RapplerID not true, mistake in police briefing.— sidney jones (@sidneyIPAC) December 17, 2016
The foreign terrorist group’s propaganda arm has actively pushed videos of pro-ISIS groups in the Philippines, however. In June, men believed to be ISIS also called on followers to go to the Philippines. (READ: ISIS to followers in SE Asia: ‘Go to the Philippines’)
The Philippine military has intensified its offensive against pro-ISIS terrorist groups in the Philippines, particularly against the Abu Sayyaf Group operating in Sulu and Basilan and the Maute Group operating in Lanao Del Sur. (READ: 4 PH terror groups link up with pro-ISIS fighters in region)
The Philippine military has reported the presence of foreign fighters in the Philippines, but none of them have fought in Syria. – Rappler.com