ISIS-Linked Activity in Southeast Asia: April 22 to June 23, 2016
Four ISIS-linked Salafi-Jihadi groups in Philippines released a video on June 21, 2016 including an official logo for ISIS in Philippines, implying direct affiliation with ISIS. The four groups in the video are the Abu Khubayb Brigade, the Jundallah Battalion, the Abu Sadr Battalion, and the Abu Dujana Brigade. The video included fighters speaking either from Philippines or from Raqqa, Syria. The fighters announced that groups in Philippines have both consolidated as one organization and are operating under an emir, Abu Abdullah al-Filipini aka Isnilon Hapilon, which would meet two prerequisites for official wilayats outlined by ISIS’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in 2014. Isnilon Hapilon is the leader of Abu Sayyaf Group, a former associate of al-Qaeda that pledged bayat to Baghdadi twice between 2014 and 2016. ISIS’s official weekly newsletter al Naba also referred to Hapilon as a commander in Philippines in April 2016, indicating a previous endorsement by ISIS. The groups in the video are operationally capable and conducting attacks, some likely including fighters that have returned from Syria. ISIS began to claim attacks by these groups in Philippines in April 2016. ISIS has not announced Wilayat Philippines officially, but it may do so as part of its Ramadan campaign to demonstrate that it continues to expand to new regions. ISIS may declare additional wilayats during Ramadan, for example in Bangladesh, where similar prerequisites have already been met.