A newly-merged Islamic State powerhouse in the southern Philippines has local authorities concerned about Australia’s security.
A video released on Friday reveals four terrorist groups in the region pledging their allegiance to self-proclaimed caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
The video, which was posted on a jihad website but immediately removed, shows militants carrying IS flags and the heavily armed commanders of the four battalions that had previously individually pledged to serve IS.
Counter-terror expert and head of the Singapore-based International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research, Rohan Gunaratna, told The Australian that the new movement poses a major security concern for Australia and Southeast Asia.
“The recruits who cannot go to Syria because of travel restrictions will train in The Philippines and attack Australia and coalition interests on their return,” he said.
“As the ‘soldiers of the caliphate’ in The Philippines, they will mount operations that will increasingly mirror IS’s core in Syria and Iraq.”
Australian counter-terrorist expert Greg Barton has agreed that there could be attempts of large mass casualty incidents in Southeast Asia this year.
“I think we are back in the position we were in October 2002 where (attacks) … are much more likely to affect Australians in Southeast Asia than in Australia because of the number of jihadi groups and suicide attacks and numerous soft targets. It’s pretty easy in Indonesia.”
The Australian has more.