Islamic State tactics start to gain ground
MANILA A threat by Philippine militants to kill a German hostage in a show of solidarity with Islamic State is the latest sign that the Middle East groups brand of radicalism is winning recruits in Asia and posing a growing security risk in the region.
Over 100 people from Southeast Asias Muslim majority countries of Indonesia and Malaysia and the southern Philippine region are believed by security officials and analysts to have gone to join Islamic States fight in Iraq and Syria. Malaysian and Indonesian militants...
...have discussed forming a 100strong Malay-speaking unit within Islamic State in Syria, according to a report from a wellknown security group released this week.
Admiral Samuel Locklear, who heads the US Armed Forces Pacific Command, said on Thursday around 1,000 recruits from India to the Pacific may have joined Islamic State to fight in Syria or Iraq. He did not specify the countries or give a time-frame.
That number could get larger as we go forward, Locklear told reporters at the Pentagon. In addition to India, the Hawaii- based Pacific Commands area of responsibility covers 36 countries, including Australia, China and other Pacific Ocean states. The command does not cover Pakistan.
In the region, thousands have sworn oaths of loyalty to Islamic State as local militant groups capitalise on a brand that has been fuelled by violent online videos and calls to jihad through social media, security analysts say. Security officials say this has disturbing implications for the region, especially when battlehardened fighters return home from the Middle East.
The Philippines Abu Sayyaf group, which has earlier claimed links with alQaeda and is led by a onearmed septuagenarian, has threatened to kill one of the two Germans it holds hostage by October 10, according to messages distributed on Twitter.
As well as US$5.6 billion in ransom, the group demanded that Germany halt its support for the US-led bomb- ing campaign launched against Islamic State this week.
A spokeswoman for the German foreign ministry told a regular press briefing in Berlin that threats are no appropriate way of influencing German foreign policy, and that the ministrys crisis group was working on the case.
The Abu Sayyaf, which beheaded a US man it had taken hostage in 2001, has suffered from dwindling support and military setbacks over the past decade, and is now believed to have only about 300 followers based on remote islands off the southern Philippines.