Wednesday, May 24, 2017

New ISIS offensive causes chaos in Marawi city in the Philippines.

Civilians flee the city of Marawi as a member of the AFP stands by. Reuters. 

Chaos has erupted in the Philippines as an ISIS affiliate has conducted a major raid in Marawi city. Reuters. ISIS has taken credit for the raid which has displaced thousands of people. The militants have set fire to churches, captured Christians and set free dozens of prisoners. Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte has declared martial law on the island where Marawi is located, Mindanao, and is considering extending it to the entire country. The violence occurred after a failed raid on the Maute group, an ISIS affiliate. The raid failed and was followed by a major attack by the group, who may have beheaded a police chief. The Catholic Church claims that several Christians and a priest are being held as human shields and hostages. 

My Comment:
Very worrying news out of the Philippines. ISIS now has a foothold in the country and it seems as though the military wasn't up the the task of defending the city. How does a simple raid against a terror group spiral this far out of control? Once the dust settles and the city is retaken, some very serious questions are going have to be asked and people are going to have to be held responsible. 

I am also very surprised that there was a group this powerful in the Philippines. I have, of course, heard of Abu Sayyaf, but I have to admit that I have never heard of the Maute branch of the Islamic State. I am also shocked that such a powerful raid could happen in a majority Christian country like the Philippines. Sure they only had between 50 and 100 fighters in the city, but that number was probably bolstered due to the released prisoners and people who are impressed with the raid. And it was enough to take over much of the city.

It sounds like Marawi City is turning into a bloodbath. There are rumors flying around of people being decapitated and at the very least, Duterte has confirmed one of those rumors and has suggested that a police chief was murdered this way. With ISIS still in the city and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) saying they will probably need three days to clear the city, that leaves a lot of time for more atrocities to occur. I would not be surprised if more people were murdered and more buildings were destroyed. 

I am especially concerned about reports of Christians being targeted. The Catholic Church claims that one of their priests and some parishioners have been captured by ISIS and are being threatened with execution. I take those threats seriously and I fear that these hostages may very well be killed. ISIS has certainly proved in the past that they will kill Christians wantonly, so I have no doubt that they are capable of doing so. 

We will be finding out if Duterte will live up to his hype. Duterte has a reputation as a loose cannon with little regard for human rights. Duterte has led a brutal war against drug dealers and users and has said that he would literally eat ISIS if they ever show up in the Philippines. Well, ISIS is now there so it remains to be seen what will happen. He will need to step up his game and defeat these terrorists because if he doesn't nobody will ever take him seriously again. 

So far Duterte is living up to his reputation. Not only has he cut a crucial trip to Russia short, he has declared marital law in Mindanao. He is threatening to do so for the entire country. Some people are saying that this is an overreaction. I don't think so. The threat is real and there is a real danger of ISIS gaining ground quickly if this isn't nipped in the bud. I am guessing that once the AFP shows up in force in Marawi, there will be no quarter offered or given...

This is a huge story with major implications. As far as I am aware this is the first time that ISIS has taken control of a city, however temporally, in a majority Christian country. It also shows that ISIS is now a global threat. Sure, they have overrun much of the Middle East and parts of Africa, and have launched a wave of terror in Europe and America, but until now they haven't taken any territory anywhere else. That has changed now and could mark a turning point in the war against ISIS. This is truly a global war and any country with a large population of Sunni Muslims may be vulnerable to the same kind of threat... 

The story is not getting the coverage it deserves. I had to look for this report and it wasn't easy to find. Sure, there are other stories going on right now, with Trump on his first international trip and the terror attack in Manchester, but the fact that ISIS has conducted a major raid in the Philippines should be a huge story. But it really isn't being covered even though Durterte himself is making headlines. Someone decided to leak Trump's conversation with the controversial leader, which is somehow more important than ISIS slaughtering Christians in a totally new theater of war. The press should be ashamed of themselves.  

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