Friday, September 26, 2014

Filipinos joining extremists in Syria, Iraq possible–military exec

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Sep 26): Filipinos joining extremists in Syria, Iraq possible–military exec


DFA Assistant Secretary and spokesman Charles Jose. AP FILE PHOTO

A ranking Philippine military official on Friday said the possibility of Filipinos fighting alongside Islamic extremists in Syria and Iraq could not be discounted.

“We are not discounting the possibility. There are many Filipinos there,” the official, who refused to be named told reporters.

Reports of Filipinos joining the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) circulated after Foreign Affairs Spokesman Charles Jose said they received unverified information that at least 100 Filipinos trained in Iran before they went to Syria. Two Filipino militants reportedly fought with Syrian ISIS forces and were later killed.

The military official said the reports were being verified. “We are validating the information. When we have information we check it.”

There were also persistent reports of ISIS recruitment in parts of Mindanao as well as photos and videos of Filipino militants on social media allegedly pledging allegiance to ISIS, to which the official also denied.

“They have sympathizers but it doesn’t mean they are recruited. They have Filipino sympathizers but we haven’t verified anyone who has joined. We are still checking,” he said.

“But so far what we have validated was that they are riding on the popularity of ISIS,” he said.

US intelligence officials estimate there are about 15,000 foreign fighters in Iraq and Syria fighting with extremist groups.

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