Rick Klepper: 678.588.1622 | Doug Wilson: 205.903.3272 | Kerry Gossett: 205.281.5681 | Doug Hughes: 205.527.0876 staff@counterthreatgrp.com

As Counter Threat Group, LLC  wrote about on June 12 of this year, concerns about the Philippines becoming a stronghold for ISIS continue to grow. As the loss of territory in Iraq and Syria continue, there is a growing presence of hardened fighters appearing in the vicinity of Marawi on the island of Mindanao. Several influential think tanks including The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and Counter Extremism Project have raised the level of awareness in the region as fighting continues in Marawi. Congressional testimony has taken place within the last week to further amplify this concern.

Mindanao could be a destination for terrorists in the region if the Abu Sayyaf Group-Maute coalition holds on to Marawi City, an American analyst said. Thomas Sanderson, the Transnational Threats Project Director at influential think tank CSIS, warned that without a short-term solution to the fighting in Marawi and a long-term solution to problems in Mindanao, ISIS could come to see Mindanao as its primary destination according to Philstar. The ongoing fighting in Marawi would eventually attract more foreign and local fighters, financial support and media attention, according to Sanderson. “None of that is good for the security of the Philippine nation, especially local civilians (Muslim, Christian, Buddhist and others) in desperate need of economic development and responsive government,” Sanderson said.

The Counter Extremism Project (CEP) has voiced its concern for the proliferation of terrorist propaganda in the Philippines being spread through the internet and social media. CEP has been active globally in combating extremism “by pressuring financial and material support networks” and by “countering the narrative of extremists and their online recruitment”.

The leader of the potential caliphate in the Philippines is Isnilon Hapilon and he currently has a $5 million price tag on his head by the United States State Department. Hapilon was indicted along with four others by the United States government for their role in the kidnapping of seventeen Filipinos and three Americans. One of the Americans was eventually beheaded.