Four radical Islamic separatist groups on the Filipino island of Mindanao have merged to create a branch of ISIS on the Southeast Asian archipelago.
Terrorist groups in the Philippines have been using the ISIS flag for atleast four years according to Rappler.com with ties to infamous terror group for several years as well.
Filipino army spokesperson downplayed the likelihood of ISIS being established in the Philippines however.
“They’re not really ISIS,” Philippines military spokesman Colonel Restituto Padilla told reporters in December.
“We view them as mere criminal gangs.”
National security adviser Cesar Garcia said: “ISIS has no training camps in the Philippines.”
Terror expert Rohan Gunaratna told Rappler.com the the combined terror groups would create far greater problem for the Philippines government than the separate groups.
“The ISIS-initiated merger of the fighting formations and unifications of the leaders will present an unprecedented challenge to the Manila government,” he said.
“ISIS is likely to create a safe haven in Basilan and mount operations from the Sulu archipelago into both the Philippines and Malaysia.”