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Islamic State claims that a foreign fighter has bombed a military checkpoint in the Philippines



The Islamic State has taken responsibility for a suicide attack on a military post in Lamitan, a town in the Philippine province of Basilan. After the first press reports at least ten people were killed and several others injured in the explosion. The so-called caliphate has published a picture of the bomber identified as Abu Kathir al-Maghrebi (see above).

The alias of the suicide bomber states that he is from the Maghreb and is probably a Moroccan. In fact, pro-Islamic state telegram channels said that the "martyr" came from Morocco.

According to CNN, the military blamed the explosion on the Abu Sayyaf group. However, this does not contradict the claim of the Islamic State, as the Abu Sayyaf group leaders and some of the group's "battalions" had previously sworn allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The Abu Sayyaf group, once part of Al Qaeda's international network, helped the Islamic state to grow in Southeast Asia and gave the self-proclaimed caliphate access to its local networks.

However, the suicide bomber responsible for today's explosion was not There is no local – at least not the Islamic State media team.

The United Nations warned that the Philippines had become a target for foreign fighters after the Islamic State conquered the city of Marawi in May 2017. The acquisition of Marawi was organized by the so-called Maute group, another local jihadist outfit drove the expansion of the so-called caliphate in the region. Although he lost control of Marawi several months later, the Islamic State in the Philippines remained a threat.

Marawi was "a significant symbol and propaganda victory for the Islamic State," the UN warned in a report released in the was released last January. The group's "affiliates" had "succeeded in occupying an urban area and, according to the Member States, the threat to the Philippines [Islamic State] persisted despite the end of the siege and death of senior leaders."

Quoted after its member states, the United Nations warned that the siege of Marawi "could have long-term effects on the region and serve as inspiration for other militants" as the "advertising value of the siege" was considerable. The UN added that the siege had fueled "appeals from foreign terrorist fighters to emigrate to the region".

Today's bombing underscores the fact that the Islamic State, despite significant loss of leadership reserves a surgical arm in the Philippines setbacks. The organization could also maintain important links with the mothership of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. In April, the US Treasury Department approved a female facilitator for the group, Myrna Mabanza. According to the Ministry of Finance, Mabanza served as a "mediator" between jihadists in the Philippines and their comrades in Syria. [See FDD's Long War Journal report, Ministry of Finance sanctions ISIS mediator in the Philippines.]

Thomas Joscelyn is Senior Fellow of the Defense for Democracies Foundation and editor-in-chief of the FDD Long War Journal.

keywords: Abu Kathir al-Maghrebi, Abu Sayyaf Group, Foreign fighter in the Philippines, Marawi, Maute brothers, Maute group, Philippines


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