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Ansar Khalifa Philippines

Ansar Khalifa Philippines
Also known as Ansar al-Khilafah in the Philippines[1]
Ansarul Khilafah Philippines[2]
Country Philippines
Leader(s) Abu Sharifah[2]
Mohammad Jaafar Maguid [3]
Abdullah Nilong (POW)[4]
Dates of operation 2014 (2014)–present
Active region(s) Mindanao
Ideology Salafi jihadism
Notable attacks 2016 Davao City bombing
2017 Bohol clash
Battle of Marawi
Size 20–50[5]
Flag AQMI Flag asymmetric.svg

Ansar Khalifa Philippines, also referred to as Ansar al-Khilafah in the Philippines and Ansarul Khilafah Philippines ("Supporters of the Caliphate in the Philippines") is a Philippine-based militant group that emerged in August 2014 when it released a video pledging allegiance to ISIS.[1][6] The Armed Forces of the Philippines, however, characterizes the group as "bandits" engaging in cattle rustling and extortion activities.[5]

Background

Ansar Khalifa Philippines is allegedly based in the provinces of South Cotabato and Sarangani and was initially led by Abu Sharifah.[2] The group is considered to have the closest link to ISIS fighters in Syria among local terrorist groups in the Philippines.[7]

Mohammad Jaafar Maguid, identified by Philippine security officials as the leader of Ansar Khalifa Philippines, was killed in an operation conducted by the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency and the Philippine National Police on 5 January 2017 in Kiamba, Sarangani. Maguid was said to have been trained by Zulkifli Abdhir in bomb-making.[8] A few weeks later, the group's new leader, Abdullah Nilong, was captured by policemen in Polomolok, South Cotabato.[4]

In October 2017 Maguid's widow, Filipina Karen Aizha Hamidon, was arrested for recruiting fighters and spreading propaganda related to the Battle of Marawi and the Maute group.[9] Philippine authorities attributed 296 social media posts related to "recruiting to the ranks of the ISIS-affiliated Muslim militants" in Marawi to her authorship.[10] Philippine government officials also identified her as a "close associate" of Musa Cerantonio, an Australian Islamic scholar and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant supporter.[11]

Activities

In November 2015, eight members of Ansar Khalifa Philippines were killed in a four-hour firefight against Philippine military units in Sultan Kudarat. One of the dead militants was identified as Abdul Fatah, an Indonesian national.[12] Shortly thereafter, the group released a video showing its recruits training in an undisclosed jungle location.[13]

Philippine security officials have stated that Ansar Khalifa Philippines had cooperated with the Maute group in carrying out the 2016 Davao City bombing.[7] In December 2016, two alleged members of the group were captured by Philippine National Police personnel after a bomb they planted in a trash bin near the United States embassy in Manila failed to explode.[14]

The group is said to have worked with the Abu Sayyaf in carrying out the abortive plan to kidnap tourists in the Visayas region that culminated in the 2017 Bohol clash.[15] Furthermore, they were reported to have contributed fighters in support of the Maute group-led assault that resulted in the Battle of Marawi.[16]

References

  1. ^ a b SITE Intelligence Group. "Ansar al-Khilafah in the Philippines Threatens Philippine Government, American Soldiers". Retrieved 27 April 2017. 
  2. ^ a b c Gunaratna, Rohan. "Islamic State to Create Southeast Asian Satellite". BenarNews. Retrieved 27 April 2016. 
  3. ^ Murdoch, Lindsay (6 January 2017). "Top Philippine militant who pledged allegiance to Islamic State killed in firefight". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 27 April 2017. 
  4. ^ a b Unson, John (18 January 2017). "Ansar Al-Khilafa's new leader nabbed in South Cotabato". Philippine Star. Retrieved 27 April 2017. 
  5. ^ a b Franco, Joseph (29 November 2015). "Ansar Al-Khilafah In The Philippines: Name Change Rather Than Game Changer". Eurasia Review. Retrieved 27 April 2017. 
  6. ^ Weiss, Caleb. "Philippines-based jihadist groups pledge allegiance to the Islamic State". Retrieved 27 April 2017. 
  7. ^ a b Fonbuena, Carmela (9 January 2017). "Counterterrorism: Why the death of AKP's Tokboy matters". Rappler. Retrieved 27 April 2017. 
  8. ^ Fonbuena, Carmela (5 January 2017). "Top leader of pro-ISIS PH terror group killed". Rappler. Retrieved 27 January 2017. 
  9. ^ "Terrorist's widow 'recruited foreign fighters'". Sun.Star Manila. 18 October 2017. Retrieved 22 October 2017. 
  10. ^ "Philippines Arrests Top Female ISIS Recruiter of Foreign Fighters for Marawi Battle". Newsweek. 18 October 2017. Retrieved 22 October 2017. 
  11. ^ Dancel, Raul (18 October 2017). "Philippines arrests top female ISIS recruiter". The Straits Times. Retrieved 22 October 2017. 
  12. ^ "Eight rebels linked to ISIS killed in Sultan Kudarat". CNN Philippines. 27 November 2015. Retrieved 27 April 2017. 
  13. ^ Wyke, Tom (21 December 2015). "ISIS unveil the Philippines as their new breeding ground for jihadis with their latest propaganda video featuring a secret Filipino jungle training camp". Daily Mail. Retrieved 27 April 2017. 
  14. ^ Aning, Jerome (2 December 2016). "Bato: 2 'jihadists' planted bomb, one of them 'bothered by conscience'". Inquirer.net. Retrieved 27 April 2017. 
  15. ^ Gomez, Jim (15 April 2017). "Philippines: Foiled attack staged by IS-linked extremists". The Washington Post. Retrieved 15 April 2017. 
  16. ^ Caleb Weiss (5 June 2017). "Islamic State video shows destruction of church in Marawi". Long War Journal. Retrieved 7 June 2017.