Small Wars Journal

Misinformation and Intelligence Failures: How the Philippines Underestimates ISIS

Misinformation and Intelligence Failures: How the Philippines Underestimates ISIS by Robert Postings - The Defense Post

Despite the presence of multiple militant groups in the Philippines who have made pledges of allegiance, or bayah, to Islamic State, the Philippine’ government and Armed Forces (AFP) have downplayed this threat. The statements they’ve made continuously ignore the reality of ISIS in the Philippines. This is partially due to the AFP deliberately downplaying the threat from ISIS by making false statements, something they’ve admitted to. At the same time, the Philippine government and the AFP have also managed to genuinely underestimate ISIS, likely in part due to the public downplaying of the threat as well as systematic intelligence failures.

Underestimating ISIS gave it the opportunity to stage major attacks that should have been preventable.

The Philippines has seen decades of conflict in the southern region of Mindanao, where the majority of the country’s Muslim minority live. Successive militant groups have fought the AFP in an attempt to form an independent state, and two major separatist militant groups have signed peace treaties with the government, agreeing to end fighting in return for various levels of autonomy.

However, splinter factions and other more recently founded organizations have led to a patchwork of extremist groups that continue to fight. Some of the most notable of these groups are the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, various Abu Sayyef Group battalions, and the Maute group…

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