MARAWI CITY, Philippines – Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief General Eduardo Año said a video the military recovered in the safehouse where Abu Sayyaf senior leader Isnilon Hapilon was spotted on May 23 reveals the "grand plan" of local terrorist groups linked to the Islamic State (ISIS).
Año provides details of the information disclosed to Rappler by ground commander Major General Rolando Bautista in an interview during the first week of clashes. (READ: How a military raid triggered Marawi attacks)
In time for the first day of Ramadan, they will seize the whole of Marawi and proclaim an Islamic caliphate or state, just like what happened in Mosul when Al-Baghdadi occupied Mosul in June 2014; it was also the first day of Ramadan. And then they will attack Kampo Ranaw. And then from there, they thought or they hoped that the people of Marawi will support them to be one Islamic state. And then they will kill as many non-Muslims as they can so they will prove to the world that they are able to establish an Islamic state here in Asia.
Matagal pinagplanuhan 'yan kasi. Wesmincom conducted a series of operations. We call it Haribon 1, 2, 3, 4 from Butig to Pia Gapo. Doon sa effectiveness ng air strike doon, maraming namatay doon. So they realized, while waiting or planning there in the mountains, they are very vulnerable. So they hatched this plan to bring the war to the urban center and establish there [an] Islamic state as the final requirement to become a full-fledged ISIS.
It was aborted. Supposedly nga, day of Ramadan. They were not able to fully deploy all their forces, even additional forces from AKP and BIFF. Supposedly may mga papasok pa. But because of what happened when we raided the safehouse on May 23, where we got also the copy of the videos in that safehouse, na-abort lahat. Naging premature na lahat. And as you can see the first few days of the fighting, it is scattered all around Marawi. And then when our forces arrived and finally controlled and cleared several areas, they were just isolated and confined to the Banggolo district where the final resistance is being fought.