World Islamic State poses a growing threat to Southeast Asia

11:15  19 june  2017
11:15  19 june  2017 Source:   Associated Press

Exclusive: U.S. forces join Philippine troops to end city siege

  Exclusive: U.S. forces join Philippine troops to end city siege <p>U.S. special forces are helping the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to end a siege of the southern town of Marawi by militants allied to Islamic State, a U.S. embassy spokesperson in Manila told Reuters on Saturday.</p>The seizure of Marawi by hundreds of fighters who have sworn allegiance to Islamic State, including dozens from neighboring countries and the Middle East, has fueled concern that the ultra-radical group is gaining a foothold in Southeast Asia.

WASHINGTON — Southeast Asia ’s jihadis who fought by the hundreds for the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria now have a different battle closer to home in the southern Philippines. It’s a scenario raising significant alarm in Washington.

Southeast Asia , an overlooked region, may be the next battle field in the global fight against the extremist group. The recent IS-inspired attacks in Jakarta and the southern Philippines serve as a reminder of the threat that terrorism poses to Southeast Asian societies. The Islamic State has

FILE - In this Friday, June 9, 2017 file photo, debris and smoke rises after a Philippine Air Force fighter jets bombed suspected locations of Muslim militants, in Marawi city, southern Philippines. Southeast Asia’s jihadis who fought for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria now have a different battle closer to home in southern Philippines. It’s a scenario raising significant alarm in Washington. The recent assault by IS-aligned fighters on the Philippine city of Marawi has left almost 300 people dead, exposing the shortcomings of local security forces and the extremist group’s spreading reach. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila, File)© The Associated Press FILE - In this Friday, June 9, 2017 file photo, debris and smoke rises after a Philippine Air Force fighter jets bombed suspected locations of Muslim militants, in Marawi city, southern Philippines. Southeast Asia’s jihadis who fought for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria now have a different battle closer to home in southern Philippines. It’s a scenario raising significant alarm in Washington. The recent assault by IS-aligned fighters on the Philippine city of Marawi has left almost 300 people dead, exposing the shortcomings of local security forces and the extremist group’s spreading reach. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila, File)

WASHINGTON — Southeast Asia's jihadis who fought by the hundreds for the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria now have a different battle closer to home in the southern Philippines. It's a scenario raising significant alarm in Washington.

Philippine Leader, Focused on War on Drug Users, Ignored Rise of ISIS

  Philippine Leader, Focused on War on Drug Users, Ignored Rise of ISIS Islamist rebels threatened to burn down the city of Marawi. President Duterte said, “Go ahead, do it.”The Maute Group, a militant Islamist band fighting government troops near the southern Philippines city of Marawi last year, had asked for a cease-fire.

The United States launched an air strike on Tuesday against Iranian-backed fighters who it said posed a threat to US and US-backed forces in southern Syria, in a new escalation of tensions between Washington and troops supporting New age war on terror for Southeast Asia . David Hutt.

Unless regional states cooperate to tackle extremism, this is likely to pose a significant future security threat . Concerns over the Islamic State ’s growing influence in Southeast Asia were again raised last week, following British Prime Minister David Cameron’s trade mission to the region.

The recent assault by IS-aligned fighters on the Philippine city of Marawi has left more than 300 people dead, exposing the shortcomings of local security forces and the extremist group's spreading reach in a region where counterterrorism gains are coming undone.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told Congress last week that a long-running U.S. military operation to help Philippine forces contain extremist fighters was canceled prematurely three years ago. Small numbers of U.S. special forces remain in an "advise and assist" role, and the U.S. is providing aerial surveillance to help the Philippines retake Marawi, an inland city of more than 200,000 people.

But lawmakers, including from President Donald Trump's Republican Party, want a bigger U.S. role, short of boots on the ground. They fear the area is becoming a new hub for Islamist fighters from Southeast Asia and beyond.

Philippine Leader, Focused on War on Drug Users, Ignored Rise of ISIS

  Philippine Leader, Focused on War on Drug Users, Ignored Rise of ISIS Islamist rebels threatened to burn down the city of Marawi. President Duterte said, “Go ahead, do it.”The Maute Group, a militant Islamist band fighting government troops near the southern Philippines city of Marawi last year, had asked for a cease-fire.

And it is these barricade-style attacks that pose a serious threat in Southeast Asia . Smuggling Away Myanmar's Chance for Peace China’s Southeast Asia Gambit Islamic Fashion on the Rise in Malaysia Vietnam: The Curious Fall of a Communist Growing Distance Between Delhi and Moscow.

Zachary Abuza, a Southeast Asian security and politics expert at the National War College in Washington, said the four had “considerable influence” and posed a threat to their home regions ASIA IN 3 MINUTES: Islamic State ’s Jedi killed, New Zealand’s deputy PM feared sex toy protest.

"I don't know that ISIS are directing operations there but they are certainly trying to get fighters into that region," said Republican Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa, using another acronym for the group. "We need to address the situation. It should not get out of control."

U.S. intelligence and counterterrorism officials note that IS has publicly accepted pledges from various groups in the Philippines. In a June 2016 video, it called on followers in Southeast Asia to go to the Philippines if they cannot reach Syria.

About 40 foreigners, mostly from neighboring Indonesia and Malaysia, have been among 500 involved in fighting in Marawi, the Philippine military says. Reports indicate at least one Saudi, a Chechen and a Yemeni were killed. In all, more than 200 militants have died in the standoff, now in its fourth week.

Video obtained by The Associated Press from the Philippine military indicates an alliance of local Muslim fighters, aligned with IS, is coordinating complex attacks. They include the Islamic State's purported leader in Southeast Asia: Isnilon Hapilon, a Filipino on Washington's list of most-wanted terrorists, with a $5 million bounty on his head.

Singapore detains first woman citizen suspected of Islamist radicalism

  Singapore detains first woman citizen suspected of Islamist radicalism Singapore said on Monday it has detained an assistant child-care worker suspected of trying to join Islamic State and to find a militant husband in Syria, and was holding her under a tough security law that allows for detention without trial. The detention of the first Singaporean woman for suspected Islamist radicalism comes as concern is growing about the spread of Islamic State in the region. Singapore and its neighbors recently began intelligence cooperation aimed at stemming the movement of militants across their borders.

As Islamic State (ISIS) loses territory in its base, northern Iraq and eastern Syria, fresh concerns about returning foreign fighters have mounted in Southeast Asia . While ISIS does not pose a distinct threat in the Southeast Asian region currently, the sheer number of Indonesians and Malay-speaking

Editor’s note: Joseph Chinyong testifies before the House Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence on the Islamic State ’s reach in Southeast Asia and the By dint of these developments, the threat posed by ISIS in Southeast Asia is real, and it has been growing since mid-2014.

U.S. officials are assessing whether any of the estimated 1,000 Southeast Asians who traveled to Iraq and Syria in recent years are fighting in Catholic-majority Philippines. They fear ungoverned areas in the mostly Muslim region around Marawi could make the area a terror hub, as in the 1990s.

Then, the Philippines was a base of operations for al-Qaida leaders like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Ramzi Yousef, who plotted in 1994-95 to blow up airliners over the Pacific. The plot was foiled. But the same men were instrumental in the 9/11 attacks on the United States.

Other nations share the fear. Singapore recently warned of IS exerting a radicalizing influence "well beyond" what al-Qaida and Jemaah Islamiyah ever mustered. Jemaah Islamiyah carried out major terror attacks around the region in the 2000s. IS already has been linked to attacks in Indonesia and Malaysia, and foiled plots in Singapore, this past year.

This month, Mattis told the region's defense chiefs that "together we must act now to prevent this threat from growing." In Congress this past week, he stressed intelligence sharing and nations like Singapore sharing the burden, rather than deploying U.S. troops.

Pentagon chief declares North Korea the new top threat to U.S. security

  Pentagon chief declares North Korea the new top threat to U.S. security The statement comes five months after Jim Mattis identified Russia as first among threats facing the United States. The change comes as Pyongyang moves forward with what the United States calls an unprecedented number of tests on nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, and as the Trump administration’s connections to Russia are scrutinized by the FBI.Subscribe to the Post’s Today's Headlines newsletter: All the top stories of the day - local, national and global.“North Korea’s continued pursuit of nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them has increased in pace and scope,” Mattis said.

KO OLINA, Hawaii The threat that violent extremist groups pose to Southeast Asia is growing each year as they become more organized and focused in their aims, Singapore Over 1,000 Southeast Asians have flocked to join Islamic State 's self-declared "caliphate" in Iraq and Syria, Ng said.

Asian governments have become worried by the potential threat posed by the Islamic State . Many observers began to refer to Southeast Asia as the “second front” — after the greater Middle East — in the global war against terror.

More than 500 U.S. special forces were based in the Mindanao region from 2002 to 2014, advising and training Filipino forces against the Abu Sayyaf, a group notorious for bombings and kidnappings. When it ended, Philippine and U.S. officials voiced concern the U.S. withdrawal "could lead to a resurgence of a renewed terrorist threat," the RAND Corp. later reported. Months before the withdrawal, Abu Sayyaf pledged support to IS.

Supporting the Philippines isn't straightforward in Washington. President Rodrigo Duterte is accused of overlooking and even condoning indiscriminate killings by his forces in a war on drugs. Thousands have died. But that campaign has involved mainly police and anti-narcotic forces, not the military leading the anti-IS fight.

Still, the Philippine government is partly to blame for Marawi's violence, said Zachary Abuza, a Southeast Asia expert at the National War College. He said the root cause was the government's failure to fulfill a 2014 peace agreement with the nation's largest Muslim insurgency, which fueled recruitment for IS-inspired groups.

Ernst, who chairs a Senate panel on emerging threats, wants the U.S. military to restart a higher-profile, "named operation" helping the Philippines counter IS. The Pentagon retains between 50 and 100 special forces in the region. At the request of the Philippine military, it has deployed a P3 Orion plane to surveil Marawi. It gave more than 600 assault firearms to Filipino counterterrorism forces last week.

Duterte has retreated from threats to expel U.S. forces from the Philippines as he seeks better ties with China. He said recently he hadn't sought more U.S. help, but was thankful for what he was getting.

"They're there to save lives," Duterte said.

____

Associated Press writer Deb Riechmann in Washington and Jim Gomez in Manila, Philippines, contributed to this report.

U.S. will take weapons from Kurds after Islamic State defeat: Turkey .
The United States has told Turkey it will take back weapons supplied to the Kurdish YPG militia in northern Syria after the defeat of Islamic State, Ankara said on Thursday, seeking to address Turkish concerns about arming Kurds on its border. The Highest Paying Cash Back Cards Available Today See The Best Cash Back Cards Sponsored by CreditCards.com Turkish defense ministry sources said U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis also promised his Turkish counterpart to provide a monthly list of weapons handed to the YPG, saying the first inventory had already been sent to Ankara.

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