US to Launch New Program to Fight Extremism in Philippines by Jim Gomez – Associated Press
MANILA, Philippines - U.S. and Philippine officials on Tuesday discussed a new program to thwart efforts by Muslim extremists to recruit and mobilize followers in the country’s south after a bloody siege by jihadists aligned with the Islamic State group.
The three-year program involves helping local officials identify issues that foster extremism and find ways to address them, said U.S. Assistant Secretary Denise Natali of the State Department's Bureau of Conflict & Stabilization Operations.
American and Australian surveillance aircraft helped Filipino troops quell the disastrous 2017 siege by hundreds of mostly local militants in southern Marawi city, where the commercial and residential center remains in ruins and off-limits to the public. Despite the militants' defeat, Philippine officials say surviving militants have continued efforts to recruit new followers and plot new attacks.
More than 1,100 militants were killed and hundreds of thousands of residents were displaced in the five-month siege in the mosque-studded city, which renewed fears that the Islamic State group was stepping up collaboration with local jihadists to gain a foothold in the region…