ISIS to followers in SE Asia: 'Go to the Philippines'

MANILA, Philippines – The Islamic State (IS, formerly known as ISIS or the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq) has called on its followers in Southeast Asia to fight for the terror group either in Syria or in the Philippines, a recent video showed. 

The 20-minute video showed men in military fatigues carrying weapons and holding Islamic State flags, also engaging in gun battles. The video likewise showed the beheading of 3 Caucasian males, believed to be of Iraqi or Syrian descent, according to reports. The militants claim the men were "spies of the crusader alliance."

Reuters reported that a man in the video, identified by Malaysian authorities as Mohd Rafi Udin, said in Malay: "If you cannot go to [Syria], join up and go to the Philippines".

Udin is a Malaysian militant currently in Syria, according to Reuters.

Deceptive Duterte

Another man in the same video who spoke in Filipino urged his "brothers" not to hesitate in their fight. He also mentioned President-elect Rodrigo Duterte. 

"Mag-ingat kayo at maging malakas, huwag kayong magpadala sa mapanlinlang na taktika ng bagong halal na…si [Rodrigo] Duterte. Sumpain siya ng Allah," he added.  

(Take care and be strong, do not be swayed by the deceptive tactics of the newly-elected [President Rodrigo] Duterte. May he be cursed by Allah.)

Before the execution of the 3 men, a man who appears to be the same one who spoke in Filipino, warned the leaders of Malaysia, Indonesia, and "the worshippers of the cross in the Philippines."

"Know that you are not waging war against mujahideen, but you are waging war against Allah," he said in English. 

Waging war on the Philippines

"Oh my enemy…today we are slaughtering these murtads and tomorrow, our brothers in your own land will slaughter you. For we have known that you don't know the language of human being, so we will use the language of swords and language of bullets."

"Our brothers in the path of Allah will soon rise in your own land, they will fight to establish the word of Allah. So we will continue on fighting and waging war upon you, terrorizing you, casting fear in your hearts," the same man in the video said. This part of the video had subtitles in Filipino.

ISIS in February recognized a number of jihadist groups in the Philippines but stopped short of declaring a wilayat or province in the country or in Southeast Asia. Experts have warned the Philippines not to underestimate the terror organization. 

Unite under Isnilon Hapilon

The earlier part of the video in Filipino had the unidentified man calling on brothers to be merciless in their offensives and attacks against the enemy.

Fighters were urged to unite under the leadership of Abu Abdullah (also known as Isnilon Hapilon), a senior leader of the Abu Sayyaf Group who earlier swore allegiance to ISIS. 

He is in the "most wanted terrorists" list of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation. Hapilon carries a reward of up to $5 million from the US Rewards for Justice Program.

The Abu Sayyaf Group has been blamed for the worst terror attacks in Philippine history. 

Last April, at least 18 soldiers and 5 terrorists were killed in an encounter between the military and Abu Sayyaf militants in Basilan. A terror expert said ISIS is behind the killings.

Propaganda?

But Philippine military officials dismissed the latest video as propaganda, Reuters reported. 

"People should not be bothered by this," Reuters quoted Philippine military spokesman Restituto Padilla as saying. "Authorities are working on this. They can be identified, and they can be hunted down."

But Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay, chief of Malaysia's police counter-terrorism unit, said the video "is not just propaganda, but is a serious threat." 

"We are definitely expecting more attacks in this region," Pitchay told Reuters. 

Pitchay also told the New Straits Times they are preparing for potential attacks with 6 months by two sources, "Khatibah Nusantara in the Philippines, and central IS." Katibah Nusantara, he said, is a "dedicated Southeast Asian military unit" under ISIS. – with reports from Jee Geronimo/Rappler.com