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ISIS Is Gearing Up For A Comeback In The Philippines
The battle in Marawi City may have ended, but the war is not over.
This became evident on Dec. 15 after the Armed Forces of the Philippines said that ISIS-inspired groups in Mindanao were ramping up their recruitment drive to beef up their fighters for terror attacks.
During the “Bangon Marawi” news briefing in Malacañang, military pokesman Col. Edgard Arevalo said the military was monitoring the “intensified” recruitment activities of the remnants of the group once headed by terrorist leaders Isnilon Hapilon and brothers Abdullah and Omarkhayam Maute.
“The recruitment we are monitoring is from remnants of Maute/ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) group. We monitored [such recruitment]in the municipalities around Marawi, the immediate vicinity of Marawi,” Arevalo told reporters.
“They continue to intensify, in the sense that they do not stop their recruitment. They continue to encourage anyone to join their force. And of course, they continue to offer financial remunerations. They also use social media as a tool for their recruitment activities,” he added.
Arevalo cited in particular the group led by a certain Abu Turaife, who has been tagged by the military as Hapilon’s potential successor as IS emir in Southeast Asia.
While Turaife’s group has only 22 members, it was still deemed a “big threat” because of its capability to endanger the lives of the people in Mindanao, Arevalo said.
“We cannot underestimate them because they are only few. But maybe the 22 is what we could mention with certainty or report with certainty. But their ability to recruit, their mobility, the weapons that they have, and their capability to conduct terrorist activity cannot be measured by their number,” Arevalo said.
“They don’t need to be a large group. But then, the point we’re saying is, they are capable, among other reasons that they were cited [as basis]for the extension of martial law,” he added. “They are among those considered as a big threat because the group of Abu Turaife has leaning towards extremism.”
According to Arevalo, these extremist groups were seeking to recruit their relatives and “vulnerable” children.
“And that is what we are intensely working on to prevent them from continuing to recruit these vulnerable sectors of our society,” he said.
To counter the terrorists’ recruitment efforts, the government has launched several programs for the youth, Arevalo said.
“We are countering violent extremism dialogues with the youth. We also have youth leader summit. And just recently, we concluded the education tour of Muslim youth in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Our objective is to give our fellow countrymen, especially the youth, a chance to realize what is extremism [and]how recruitment is being done by these extremists,” he said.
“These are among the ways we see to promote unity and have a fruitful and mutual co-existence,” the military spokesman added.
Mindanao has been under military rule since May 23, when fighting broke out between the Maute terror group and government forces in Marawi City in Lanao del Sur.
Under the Constitution, martial law may be declared for 60 days if there is an actual rebellion or invasion and when public safety requires it.
Upon the recommendation of President Rodrigo Duterte before the expiration of his martial law proclamation on July 22, Congress extended it to December 31, 2017.
Congress, in joint session on December 13, granted the President’s request for a one-year extension of martial law in Mindanao to allow the police and military to eradicate all terrorist groups and armed lawless elements in Mindanao.
With the additional extension, martial law will be in effect in Mindanao from January 1 to December 31, 2018.
©2017 The Manila Times (Manila, Philippines). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
Once again, the United States and the Taliban are apparently close to striking a peace deal. Such a peace agreement has been rumored to be in the works longer than the latest "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" sequel. (The difference is Keanu Reeves has fewer f**ks to give than U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad.)
Both sides appeared to be close to reaching an agreement in September until the Taliban took credit for an attack that killed Army Sgt. 1st Class Elis A. Barreto Ortiz, of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. That prompted President Donald Trump to angrily cancel a planned summit with the Taliban that had been scheduled to take place at Camp David, Maryland, on Sept. 8.
Now Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen has told a Pakistani newspaper that he is "optimistic" that the Taliban could reach an agreement with U.S. negotiators by the end of January.
75 years ago, Audie Murphy earned his Medal of Honor with nothing but a burning tank destroyer's .50 cal and insane bravery
Editor's note: a version of this post first appeared in 2018
On January 26, 1945, the most decorated U.S. service member of World War II earned his legacy in a fiery fashion.
Florida senators are pushing for Purple Hearts for service members wounded in the NAS Pensacola shooting
Florida's two senators are pushing the Defense Department to award Purple Hearts to the U.S. service members wounded in the December shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola.
The Navy Department is in the middle of a new force-structure review, which could change the number and types of ships the sea services say they'll need to fight future conflicts. But instead of trying to project what they will need three decades out, which has been the case in past assessments, acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said the services will take a shorter view.
"I don't know what the threat's going to be 30 years from now, but if we're building a force structure for 30 years from now, I would suggest we're probably not building the right one," he said Friday at a National Defense Industrial Association event.
The Navy completed its last force-structure assessment in 2016. That 30-year plan called for a 355-ship fleet.
When Oscar Jesus Temores showed up to work at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story each day, his colleagues in base security knew they were in for a treat.
Temores was a master-at-arms who loved his job and cracking corny jokes.
"He just he just had that personality that you can go up to him and talk to him about anything. It was goofy and weird, and he always had jokes," said Petty Officer 3rd Class Derek Lopez, a fellow base patrolman. "Sometimes he'd make you cry from laughter and other times you'd just want to cringe because of how dumb his joke was. But that's what made him more approachable and easy to be around."
That ability to make others laugh and put people at ease is just one of the ways Temores is remembered by his colleagues. It has been seven weeks since the 23-year-old married father of one was killed when a civilian intruder crashed his pickup truck into Temores' vehicle at Fort Story.