ISIS Philippines attack a continuation of strategy of attacking elsewhere when under pressure

Washington Times:
Western powers and media outlets convulsed in shock at last week’s horrific suicide attack on a pop concert in Britain, but little attention was paid to a surge of violence by the Islamic State on the other side of the world — specifically in the Philippines and Indonesia.

Dozens have died since a Southeast Asian faction of the organization also known as ISIS and ISIL raised its black flag over a key southern Philippine city on Wednesday, the same day that a double suicide bombing since claimed by the terrorist group rocked the Indonesian capital of Jakarta.

With terrorism analysts having warned months ago that the Islamic State could surge in the region as it lost territory in the Middle East, U.S. intelligence officials have expressed particular wariness in recent days over the group’s push to hold territory in the southern Philippines.

“ISIS has publicly accepted pledges from various groups in the Philippines and has called on followers in Southeast Asia to go to the Philippines if they cannot travel to Syria,” said one American intelligence official, who spoke with The Washington Times on the condition of anonymity.

The group “harbors global ambitions and seeks to expand its influence in Southeast Asia by cultivating a network of adherents and supporters,” the official said. “As it has done in its main battle space of Iraq and Syria, ISIS seeks to exploit ungoverned space.”
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Much of the area in the caliphate that is currently under assault was seized in the same manner.  If under attack on one front it lashed out in a different direction.

To some extent, this is a distraction, but it sensed weakness in the Philippines since the current government is more focused on dope dealers than on the existential threat from Islamists. Under Duarte, the Philippines has also distanced itself from the US which had been helping the government there fight off the threat from radical Islam.

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