Philippines Raises Alert In Wake of IS Leader Al-Baghdadi’s Death
October 28: Philippine security forces are on high alert against possible retaliatory attacks by Islamic State-inspired terror groups in the Philippines following IS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi’s death, a military spokesman said on Monday.
Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said Al-Baghdadi’s death struck a severe blow on terrorist organizations around the globe and he expect that the terror leader’s death will impact negatively on the leadership of terrorists in various parts of the world.
Arevalo said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is ready to combat any eventuality, adding that the AFP will continue its vigorous efforts to prevent or counter any plan to sow terror in the country.
“Our troops in the front lines remain on high alert to thwart possible attempts to ride on this development,” he added.
Arevalo called on Filipinos to stay alert and to report any suspicious people or activities to the authorities.
“We must deny IS to gain foothold in our country,” Arevalo added.
Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of the AFP’s Western Mindanao Command, said he ordered military units to intensify intelligence operations and monitor hostile plans of the IS-inspired groups in southern Philippines.
“We are on alert. I ordered the units this morning to implement proactive measures to monitor these IS-inspired groups and to anticipate for the worst case scenario. But there is no cause for alarm,” Sobejana said.
In July, Sobejana said that at least seven foreign terrorists who were affiliated with the IS are trying to embed in the local existing terror organizations in southern Philippines.
He said the Abu Sayyaf terror group is coddling the seven suspected terrorists in the remote island provinces of Basilan and Sulu, and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in Maguindanao in central Mindanao.
Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Al-Baghdadi’s death is a blow to the IS organization. “But this is just a momentary setback considering the depth and reach of the organization worldwide. Somebody will take his place to lead the IS,” he said.
Philippine authorities have tagged the Abu Sayyaf Group, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and the Maute Group as terrorist groups with alleged links to the ISIS.
The Abu Sayyaf Group of about 400 fighters operates in the waters off the west coast of Mindanao island in southern Philippines, mainly in the Philippine provinces of the Sulu Archipelago, namely Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi, the Zamboanga Peninsula, and Mindanao, but has also conducted cross-border operations into eastern Malaysia.
The BIFF is an Islamic separatist organization also based in central Mindanao in southern Philippines. Abu Sayyaf and BIFF fighters allegedly helped the Maute militants that laid siege to Marawi City for five months in 2017, killing more than 1,200, including civilians, and leaving the city in ruins.
According to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, the Marawi attack was an attempt by the IS militants to establish a caliphate in the Philippines.