From 23 in May 2017 in the city of Maravi in the Philippines there are fights between the armed forces of the Philippines and the terrorists who have sworn allegiance to the IG. For more than 3 weeks the Philippine authorities cannot control the situation in Maravi, but after a more thorough and detailed analysis of the situation, it becomes clear why the Philippines cannot cope with this threat on their own and why they turned to the countries of the region for help.
Firstly, the attack on the city of Maravi, which was carried out by the terrorist group "Maute", was planned for a long time and thoroughly. It would be wrong to assume that the attack was spontaneous and emotional in response to the attempt to arrest the emir of the IG in Southeast Asia and the leader of the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group, Isnilon Hapilon (terrorist groups are banned in the Russian Federation). An attempt to arrest Isnilon Hapilon served as a trigger, as a result of which the attack began earlier than it was actually planned. During searches in one of the houses repulsed by terrorists in Maravi, the Filipino military found a videotape of Iskilon Hapilon, where he called for “spread terror” and unleash a wave of violence on the city of Maravi for the purpose of seizing it, and also to take hostage pupils of schools, block roads, burn churches and destroy any symbols of Catholicism. The representative of the Armed Forces of the Philippines officially stated that the plans of the terrorists were much more ambitious and ambitious.
This idea is confirmed by Joseph Estrad’s son, 13 President of the Philippines, Joseph Victor Ejersito, who said that the Maute group was planning to win back Maravi from the Philippines. The commander-in-chief of the land forces of the Philippines, General Eduardo Agno, stated that the terrorist group “Maute”, which has actually become part of the IG, is trying to “destroy the territorial integrity of the Philippines by occupying Maravi and establishing its own government or an Islamic state”.
During the takeovers of houses and shelters where militants were stationed, the military discovered huge amounts of money (for example, 52 million pesos in cash and a check on 27 million pesos); caches weapons (caliber 7,62 mm and 12,7 mm) and ammunition; food stocks. Also during the searches, a lot of underground passages and manholes were found that connect different parts of the city.
Secondly, the Philippine intelligence agencies underestimated the number, organization and training of terrorists in the Philippines. Initially, there were data on 50 terrorists, then the figure increased to 100, then to 200, now the commander-in-chief of the National Army of Indonesia announces 600 terrorists who attacked Maravi. Also, as part of the attackers on Maravi, there were many foreign terrorists from other Southeast Asian countries and the Middle East.
Third, some local residents and politicians support the terrorists. Several politicians in the Philippines were arrested, and several more are wanted. They are accused of supporting the Islamists who attacked Maravi.
Terrorists receive support not only from politicians, but also from the local population. "This is a symbiosis of a number of politicians, civilians, Mauth terrorists and their leaders," said the commander-in-chief of the Philippine armed forces, General Eduardo Agno, describing the attackers in Maravi.
The former mayor of Maravi, Fahad Salik, was arrested on charges of participating in the uprising. “Already before the situation with Maravi, we had information that he was their loyal supporter, who provided logistics and financing for several years for the Mauth group.”
A former member of the Jemaah Islami terrorist group, Ali Fawzi, who participated in the founding of a terrorist training camp in Mindanao, said that a large amount of weapons, ammunition, explosives can be purchased on the black market of the Philippines, and local security forces do not control movement inside the country, which facilitates the mobility of militants. In addition, he notes the strong support of terrorists from local residents.
Fourthly, the armed forces of the Philippines also need to confront terrorists on a different front, namely, to carry out special operations against the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf. At the start of 2017, President Duterte instructed the Philippine armed forces to neutralize Abu Sayyaf for 6 months, and the mandate itself expires on 30 on June 2017, which was established after terrorists from this group kidnapped German citizen Jurgen Kantner when he together with his wife was in his yacht in the Sulu water area in November 2016. The terrorists killed Kantner's wife, and took him hostage, setting a time period after which they expected to receive a ransom. Without waiting for the money, the terrorists beheaded Kantner. Abu Sayyaf is reportedly still holding around 20 hostages of various nationalities. In May, 2017, the commander of the armed forces of western Mindanao, lieutenant-general Karlito Galvez, stated that, starting in January, government forces had eliminated 81 member Abu Sayyaf.
Fifth, despite the fact that the special operation against terrorists in the city of Maravi has been going on for a long time, the city is not under the control of the government of the Philippines. Despite the fact that the terrorist’s 202 has already been eliminated, Maute controls 20% of the territory of Maravi. This statement was made by the Sun of the Philippines in order to refute the statement of the IG that the Maute group controls the 2 / 3 of the city. Despite the presence of military advisers from the United States, the Armed Forces of the Philippines continue to suffer significant losses. For example, 10 June 2016 of the 13 of the Marines of the Armed Forces of the Philippines died in a confrontation with the IG terrorists in Marawi.
The situation prevailing in the city of Marawi also needs to be viewed in the context of the close ties of Filipino and Indonesian terrorists.
A spokesman for the National Anti-Terrorism Agency of Indonesia said that the terrorist group “Jemaa Ansuharut Daula”, which is responsible for a number of terrorist attacks in Indonesia, including the recent terrorist attack on the Kampung Melawu stop, was sending Indonesian terrorists to the Philippines, who later participated in the assault on Maravi. The involvement of “Jemaa Ansuharut Daula” in sending terrorists to Maravi is inextricably linked with Bakhrun Naima, who represents one of the factions of the terrorist association of immigrants from Southeast Asia, fighting for the IG in the Middle East - “Katiba Nusantara” IG terrorists of Indonesian origin. The National Anti-Terrorism Agency says that Bahrun Hiring transmits the content of Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s new doctrines and fatwas to members of the “Djemaa Ansuharut Daula” terrorist cells in Indonesia, including the doctrine of warfare. “Katiba Nusantara”, through groups in messengers, gives orders to cells that have sworn allegiance to the IG. For example, the Philippines was approved as a province of the IG. According to the representative of the NABT, the terrorists have their own advisory body in the likeness of the parliament, fighting battalions, so foreign terrorists, including from Indonesia, began to rush there.
The head of the NABT, Sukhardi Alius, said that the Philippines became a haven for terrorists from Indonesia. When the IG was formed, the terrorists from Indonesia began to leave for Syria, and when the IG began to lose in the Middle East, they began to look for a stronghold in Southeast Asia and the choice fell on the Philippines. He also said that Indonesian security forces are collaborating with Filipino counterparts to track down Indonesian terrorists.
Commander-in-Chief of the National Army of Indonesia, General Gato Nurmanto, stated that he had foreseen a wave of terrorist attacks on Mindanao, since about 1.5 a year ago he had received information from Bahrain’s intelligence services, which reported on the possible transfer of IG forces from Iraq and Syria to Southeast Asia, just to the southern philippines. Now, in his opinion, there is a possibility that the forces of terrorists affiliated with the IG will shift from Maravi to Indonesia. According to him, the terrorists can penetrate through the northern border areas, such as the city of Bitung in the province of North Sulawesi and through the island of Morotai in the province of North Maluku. Law enforcement officials also note that Indonesians who are in Marawi could have penetrated the Philippines either through the state of Sabah in Malaysia or by sea through Miangas, North Sulawesi. Ali Fawzi, a former terrorist, believes that another point of entry for terrorists is Sebatik Island, which is located on the border of Indonesia and Malaysia in the North Kalimantan region and is a secret route for Indonesian-born terrorists who want to join a terrorist group in the southern Philippines. According to Ali Fawzi, Sebatik Island is the gateway to the southern Philippines due to weak border controls. From Sebatik it is easy to get to Tawau (Malaysia), and from Tawau you can get to any area of the Philippines. In general, Fawzi admitted that he and his associates were very easy to move between Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, since the borders of the three states are poorly guarded.
Coordinator for Politics, Law and Security, Viranto, said that Indonesian-born terrorists were moving to the Philippines because the IG stronghold in Poso was defeated by Indonesian security forces.
"The IG chose a stronghold in Southeast Asia, the choice was between the city of Poso and the Philippines. They chose the Philippines because they were pursued by secret services in Poso. In Poso we killed the terrorists, only a few people were left,” said Viranto. the borders of Indonesia and the Philippines, as the Philippine military is now pushing the terrorists away, and the Indonesian authorities are afraid that they might again enter Indonesia.
Speaking about the situation in Indonesia itself, Gato Nurmantio said that sleeping cells had already been formed in the country, which could quickly form entire terrorist networks if they were activated. “If steps are taken to awaken such cells, it will be dangerous. If we cannot cope with this threat, external forces will come under the guise of humanitarian aid,” said Gato Nurmanto. "We can not allow the Syrian conflict to move to Indonesia [...] we can not allow them to penetrate into Indonesia, there are already their beginnings." Moreover, Gato Nurmanto believes that the IG members are present in all provinces of Indonesia. He cites the example the situation in the city of Maravi in the Philippines, where at first, according to the Philippine intelligence, there were only 50 terrorists, and eventually their number was about 600. Most of them were “sleeping”, and after being summoned, they “awoke” and joined the attack on the Marawi.
The 22 man was arrested by the anti-terrorist unit Densus 88 after the terrorist attack on Kampung Melaya in Jakarta on suspicion of involvement in terrorist activities. Most of them are members of the “Jemaa Ansuharut Daula” terrorist group. Police spokesman Martinus Sitompoul stated that the arrest was carried out as part of averting possible terrorist attacks, some of which had already been carried out by this group.
In Southeast Asia, according to the Government of Indonesia, the IG sets as its goal to settle in two states, namely the Philippines and Indonesia. In the Philippines, especially in the southern part, most of the terrorist groups have sworn allegiance to the IG. In Indonesia, the terrorists wanted to turn the city of Poso in the provinces of Central Sulawesi into their stronghold as well. The police and the army were able to eliminate the terrorist group in Poso under the leadership of Santoso, from which 6 people survived, so at the moment it cannot be said that Central Sulawesi still remains in the IG’s plans as a reference point.
Indonesia plans to join forces with a number of countries in the region to help the Philippines neutralize terrorist groups that have pledged allegiance to the IG. Coordinator for Policy, Law and Security, Viranto, said that Indonesia plans to cooperate with Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines in the fight against terrorism in the Philippines. The purpose of cooperation is to prevent the IS from gaining a foothold in Southeast Asia. The next meeting of representatives from 6 countries is scheduled for July 2017 in Indonesia.
The Government of the Philippines also intends to cooperate more closely with Malaysia and Indonesia in the fight against terrorism. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines, Peter Caetano, said that President Duterte had warned that ISIS could penetrate into Southeast Asia. “The President from the very beginning warned that when the IS begins to lose in Syria and Iraq, the IS will try to move to Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines,” he added. He stressed that the IG intends to establish a caliphate in the Philippines, supporting, in particular, the Mauth terrorist group. He also stated that the IG is aimed not only at Maravi, but also at other cities that can become the basis of the IG Caliphate. Chayetano said that Indonesia has already put forward proposals for a meeting with representatives of the Philippines and Malaysia to discuss actions to be taken in the framework of countering terrorism. He also noted that ASEAN and the Russian Federation also offered assistance in combating terrorism in the region.
Can Indonesia and the Philippines repeat Syria and Iraq? Of course, it is possible. The establishment of a caliphate on the territory of the southern Philippines and in the northern part of Indonesia in the Sulawesi region is the goal of the Islamic State, for which the terrorists are making great efforts. At the moment, Indonesian security forces control the situation in the country much better than their counterparts in the Philippines. Experts and observers agree that repeating the scenario of the city’s storming of terrorists in Indonesia is almost impossible, so the terrorists focused on the Philippines. Objectively, the Filipino military does not quite cope with the situation in Maravi, so they need the help of neighboring states. The task of neutralizing Mauth in Maravi is paramount, but the long-term and main goal of the authorities of the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and other interested countries of the region is to prevent the Middle East scenario from repeating the formation of a caliphate by the Islamic State terrorist group in several states of Southeast Asia .
The article was first published on the website of the Institute of the Middle East: http://www.iimes.ru/?p=35714, http://www.iimes.ru/?p=35738
Will Indonesia and the Philippines repeat the fate of Syria and Iraq?
- Ilyutochkin Alexander