AFP pursuing 50 foreign terrorists in Mindanao
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines — The military is tracking down some 50 foreign Islamic State (IS) militants in Mindanao.
“We will take this very seriously. In fact, we are conducting massive combat and intelligence operations on tracking these people,” Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr. said yesterday.
“We are on the right track. We can zero in on the locations of this foreign terrorist group,” he added.
Galvez said they are continuously validating the locations of the foreign jihadists reportedly conducting high level recruitment.
Galvez said the foreign jihadists are mostly Malaysians and Indonesians, with some coming from the Middle East.
He said the foreigners slipped into southern Philippines by pretending to be Tabligh (Islamic pilgrim) attending gatherings while others posed as businessmen, students or tourists.
“We have direct orders for our intelligence and combat units to immediately hit and eliminate the influence of the foreign terrorists group in the area,” Galvez said.
He said they are continuously monitoring the movements of the foreign jihadists, some of whom are reportedly conducting recruitment of locals.
“We noticed as of now their attempt to recruit is very massive because of their heavy losses, so they want to massively recruit especially those vulnerable people like students, orphans and youth,” Galvez said.
He said the foreign terrorists were increasing the level of their organization by recruiting from families orphaned during the siege in Marawi City.
Galvez said the foreigners were also recruiting from other Muslim insurgent groups.
He said the IS has not been able to conduct massive recruitment so far.
“We noticed we were able to thwart the recruitment as the Grand Mufti and the ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) are helping us in really countering violent extremism by going through the grassroots level of information campaign to prevent people from being deceived by the recruitment of the Daesh and foreign terrorist group,” Galvez said.
Galvez said they have also created the Regional Anti-Terrorism council in the ARMM to closely monitor the recruitment of the IS group.
The military and the local government units have been conducting massive information drives in schools in Cotabato City.