ISIS looking for new killing grounds in Asia
In August, ISIS released a seven-minute, English-language video encouraging would-be fighters to travel to the Philippines instead of Syria and Iraq. The video was the latest sign the group has shifted its recruiting tactics as it loses ground to Coalition Forces in the Middle East. Asia has become a new focus for ISIS, according to private sector analysts, such as Flashpoint Intelligence.
ISIS now views the southern Philippine islands as the best destination for terrorists and is using videos and social media in English and languages spoken in the southern Philippines to boast of its exploits and recruit fighters, according to private sector analysts.
At a 1 August press conference in Washington, D.C., Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stated US intelligence is aware ISIS fighters from other countries are operating in Philippines. Tillerson added, “We already see elements of ISIS in the Philippines, as you’re aware, gaining a foothold. Some of these fighters have gone to the Philippines from Syria and Iraq. We are in conversations with the Philippine government, with Indonesia, with Malaysia, with Singapore, with Australia, as partners to recognize this threat, try to get ahead of this threat.”
One constant challenge with fighting terrorism is that squeezing a group out of one country can force it to find another. Typically, the new location will be a nation that is either in turmoil, as were both Syria and Iraq, or where a rebel force which can be assimilated already exists. The Moro conflict in the Philippines has endured for decades, as have other insurgencies, including communists and others.
Islamic rebels in the Philippines have been losing ground to the government, which has promised to "root them out" regardless of the cost. The cost may have to rise:
The attraction of the ISIS brand is obvious: a boost to recruiting and a fearsome reputation to graft onto their own. But in recent months, counterterrorism experts have acknowledged that real aid from the Islamic State’s central command — mostly financial, though including a few dozen foreign fighters — has strengthened the local group.
Hence the new recruitment drive -- and the real possibility that the vicious ISIS terror bred in the Middle East may be looking for a new home.