The Philippines: Islamic State's Next Stronghold? By Sharyl Attkisson - The Hill
You may have heard we’ve met with great success in the past year in crushing ISIS in the Mideast. But it turns out that knocking them down in one spot means their battle-hardened fighters are showing up in surprising, new places — like the Philippines. The U.S. State Department has just added ISIS Philippines and six other Islamic extremist terrorist groups to the U.S. list of designated terrorists.
Why is ISIS showing up in the Philippines? It helps to look back at where ISIS began in 2014. Shortly after President Obama referred to ISIS as the “J.V. team,” the terrorist group publicized dozens of videotaped beheadings as it fought and won bloody battles in key Iraqi and Syrian cities. ISIS came to control half of Syria and important strongholds in Iraq.
By last November, U.S. and coalition forces had retaken Mosul, Iraq, and the Islamic extremist terrorists had been all but driven out of the region. Their search for refuge among like-minded brethren pointed some of them to the southern Philippines region of Mindanao. The vast majority of Filipinos are Christian, but according to the 2000 census, one in five residents of Mindanao is Muslim.
I reported from Mindanao last summer, where ISIS fighters from the Mideast were already joining established Islamic extremists. Hundreds of terrorists had attacked the Philippine army in the region’s island city of Marawi, population 200,000. Civilians were taken hostage, thousands of them fled and almost the whole city was evacuated. The fighting continued for months and, at the end, 400 terrorists were dead. So were more than 100 civilians and Philippine troops.
Most people don’t know it, but the battle with violent Islamic extremists in the Philippines actually goes back decades…