Muslim rebels in Philippines vow allegiance to Islamic State

World Today

The influence of the Islamic State may be further expanding  in Asia. Video clips of Muslim extremists from the Philippines pledging allegiance to IS have been posted online. There are reports around a hundred young Filipino Muslims have been recruited by the group. CCTV America’s Barnaby Lo reports from Manila.

A video is doing the rounds which shows members of the Abu Sayyaf pledging allegiance to the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. Another armed group in the Southern Philippines, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, has offered its support to ISIL. A few other clips of Filipino Muslims vowing loyalty to ISIL including one supposedly shot inside a high security prison have been making the rounds on the Internet. There are reports that about a hundred young Filipino Muslims have joined the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, two of whom were allegedly killed in battle.

The Philippines military has long battled Muslim extremists in the country’s South. The Al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group for instance, has been blamed for some of the deadliest bombings and high profile kidnappings. The question now is whether the rise and influence of ISIL are presenting new challenges.

However, Philippines military says, there is no direct evidence, so far, of ISIL recruitment in the country. If Filipino Muslims have indeed joined the ranks of ISIL, however, it wouldn’t be the first time. In their early years, members of the Abu Sayyaf trained and fought with Afghan militants.

While at least two radical Western Islamists have managed to enter the country, they’ve been arrested and deported, a sign both the government and analysts say that it may be a long way before ISIL becomes an imminent threat to the Philippines.