From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Feb 29): IS-influenced youth said to be joining fighting in south
SOME 150 young men, suspected to have been influenced by extremist ideas, are reportedly fighting with what the military has described as “foreign and local” armed groups in the weeklong clashes in Butig, Lanao del Sur.
A well-placed security official, who requested anonymity, said the young fighters have apparently been influenced by the idea of a worldwide caliphate claimed by the Islamic State (IS) jihadist extremist group.
Malacañang, through Communications Undersecretary Manuel Quezon III, has declined to comment on the security official’s statement.
“I would be uncomfortable offhand assuming that certain conclusions could be reached. I do recall that in the past the defense establishment has pointed out that there may be certain small groups or individuals who proclaimed allegiance to IS but that is not to assume or to conclude that this is genuine,” Quezon told state-run Radyo ng Bayan Saturday.
“It could be as much a effort to try to gain media traction as something else. That being said, I defer to the of National Defense, which could give a more thorough and sober briefing on this matter,” Quezon added.
The Third Party Monitoring Team observing the implementation of agreements in the peace deal with the secessionist Moro Islamic Liberation Front has warned that the hiatus between now and when a “Bangsamoro ” is finally passed is a critical period, as it could be exploited by extremists recruiting fighters.
The five-person team, headed by former European Union Ambassador to the Philippines Alistair MacDonald, said that “violent extremism” could result from the non-passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) as radicals could take advantage of the frustration of many of those who had been hopeful of the establishment of a Bangsamoro entity in Mindanao.
“President (Aquino) had said in the past that delaying peace and delaying justice tied with precisely what had been warned about that there may be younger hotheads who would be frustrated by the delay and use it as an excuse to give up on the peace process,” Quezon said.
“This sort of warning should inspire all of us to reach out to our Muslim brothers, to reassure them that all Filipinos are committed to the peace process. So that the leaders, on the part of our Moro brothers and sisters, who have really stuck their necks out to commit to a way forward under a united Philippines will be reassured that we remain partners of peace,” he said.