The Rendon Group Snapshot Report – 18 April 2016

by TRG Alerts Admin on April 25, 2016

The Rendon Group

(18APR16)

Each week The Rendon Group’s media analysts will focus on a different continent and a different issue affecting that continent. As always, we remain available to answer any questions you may have and to provide additional information upon request. For more information regarding The Rendon Group’s products and services, please contact us at Alert@Rendon.com or +1-202-745-4900.

Philippines battles Islamist militants in south following deadly clash

PhilippinesPhilippines Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and top generals visit one of the wounded soldiers at a military hospital. (Roel Pareno/The Philippine Star)

This week’s snapshot focuses on the Philippines’ battle against Islamist militants in the country’s south. On 09APR16, 18 soldiers and five Abu Sayyaf militants were killed in a clash in Mindanao. The predominantly Catholic former Spanish and US colony has long battled various Islamist separatist groups in the archipelago’s remote Muslim south. The heavy losses renewed the political focus on concerns regarding the military’s operational competence, and the government was quick to step up its campaign against Islamist militants. However, the various Islamist militant groups remain a potent force in the country, as multiple groups influenced by the Islamic State compete with each other for influence and notoriety.

News summary of events during the week of 11APR16 – 18APR16

  • 11APR: Philippine soldiers killed four more militants as they pressed their offensive against the Abu Sayyaf after suffering heavy losses in weekend clashes in the troubled south. (AFP)
  • 12APR: Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said the military has killed 25 Islamist guerillas as it presses on with an offensive despite the loss of 18 soldiers. (AFP)
  • 13APR: Suspected Muslim militants beheaded two kidnapped sawmill workers that appears to have been influenced by the Islamic State group’s style of killings, military and police officials said. (AP)
  • 14APR: US Defense Secretary Ash Carter said that the violent influence of the Islamic State group could be emboldening militants in the southern Philippines. (AP)
  • 14APR: The Philippines dismissed as “purely propaganda” Islamic State’s claim that its militants killed scores of government troops in ambushes and said there was no evidence directly linking southern Muslim rebels to the group. (Reuters)
  • 15APR: Islamist militants holding three foreigners and a Filipino woman captive in the southern Philippines threatened to execute one of them in 10 days if ransom was not paid. (Reuters)
  • 15APR: Islamist militants seized four Indonesian crewmen from a tugboat in the southern Philippines, the third attack on slow moving vessels in about a month, as troops battled militants on a nearby island. (Reuters)
  • 17APR: Security forces captured two militants in separate operations in Zamboanga City in the southern Philippines, just several nautical miles south of Basilan province where military forces are battling Abu Sayyaf. (Manilla Times)
  • 17APR: Government forces captured three Abu Sayyaf camps as pursuit operations continued in Basilan. (Philippines Star)
  • 18APR: Suspected communist rebels abducted five police officers responding to an attack on a government militia detachment in the southern Philippines, according to a police spokesman. (DPA)

Sample of Twitter handles tweeting about the fight against Islamist militants in Philippines

  • @rhreid – Bob Reid, Former Foreign Correspondent reporting from Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East from 1977
  • @PNguyen_DC – Phuong Nguyen, Associate Fellow, CSIS
  • @JakeGodin – Jake Godin, MENA/Foreign Policy, Newsy Videos
  • @JonahBlank – Jonah Blank, Senior Political Scientist at RAND, focus on South and Southeast Asia

Sample of Third Party Validators regarding the fight against Islamist militants in Philippines

Rohan Gunaratna, Professor of Security Studies, International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research (ICPVTR) (Singapore)

“The Philippine government must understand that there has (been) a change in the loyalties of Abu Sayyaf Basilan and they no longer identify themselves as Abu Sayyaf but as IS.”

  • AFP raises doubts on ISIS claim in Basilan clash, CNN Philippines, 12APR16

Jasminder Singh and Muhammad Haziq Bin Jani, Analysts, International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research (ICPVTR) at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

“To fulfill the vision of its self-styled caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, even affiliated militant groups in Southeast Asia have been injected with their jihadi doctrines, turning them into a unified force. The manner in which ISIL conducts itself has been translated onto Southeast Asia, resulting in the “Daesh-isation” of the region.”

  • “‘Daesh-isation’ Of Southeast Asia’s Jihadists,” RSIS Commentaries, 12APR16

Rommel Banlaoi, Chairman of the Board, Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research (PIPVTR)

“It’s deja vu. The government forces underestimated the rebels’ firepower capability and ties with other lawless groups on Basilan.”

  • “Philippines army on defensive after bloody clash with militants,” Reuters, 11APR16

Ric Jacobson, Principal for Asia Pacific, TD International

“It’s not simply a matter of training. If the leadership and preparations are not solid, then these operations are destined for failure, no matter how well-trained the troops.”

  • “Philippines army on defensive after bloody clash with militants,” Reuters, 11APR16

Richard Javad Heydarian, Assistant Professor of Political Science, De La Salle University

“These clashes are largely a reflection of the dangerous power vacuum emanating from the deadlock in peace negotiations and how ISIS sympathizers are intent on establishing a strong foothold in the country. The timing of these encounters is certainly unhelpful as the country nears election period.”

  • “Philippines Says 23 Died in Clash Between Army, Militants,” Bloomberg, 09APR16

Sample of open source research conducted by TRG analysts related to the fight against Islamist militants in Philippines

  1. Philippines military kills four extremists after heavy losses

Media: Agence France-Presse (AFP)

Byline: N/A

Date: 11 April 2016

Zamboanga, Philippines, April 11, 2016 (AFP) – Philippine soldiers killed four more militants as they pressed their offensive against the Abu Sayyaf after suffering heavy losses in weekend clashes in the troubled south, authorities said Monday.

Troops killed the four on the strife-torn island of Basilan on Sunday, a day after the guerrillas killed 18 soldiers in the worst fighting so far this year, regional military spokesman Major Filemon Tan said.

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  1. Muslim extremists death toll rises as Philippines presses offensive

Media: Agence France-Presse (AFP)

Byline: N/A

Date: 12 April 2016

Manila, April 12, 2016 (AFP) – The Philippine military has killed 25 Islamist guerillas as it presses on with an offensive despite the loss of 18 soldiers, authorities said Tuesday.

Defence Secretary Voltaire Gazmin gave the toll of Abu Sayyaf fighters as fighting in the southern island of Basilan continued.

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  1. Firebomb thrown at Malaysia office after ‘Satan’ jibe

Media: Agence France-Presse (AFP)

Byline: N/A

Date: 12 April 2016

Kuala Lumpur, April 12, 2016 (AFP) – A petrol bomb was thrown on Tuesday at the office of a senior politician in Malaysia’s opposition-ruled Penang state, after he described a visiting fiery Islamic preacher as “Satan”.

State officials said no one was injured and no damage caused in the early-morning attack after the firebomb landed on the centre’s metal shutters.

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  1.  Islamists behead two hostages in the Philippines

Media: Agence France-Presse (AFP)

Byline: N/A

Date: 13 April 2016

Manila, April 13, 2016 (AFP) – Philippine militants that want to ally with Islamic State jihadists have beheaded two local hostages, police said Wednesday.

Police on the southern island of Mindanao recovered the decapitated corpses of the two men on Tuesday, nine days after they were taken, said the police chief of Lanao del Sur province.

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  1. US: IS group could be emboldening Filipino militants

Media: Associated Press

Byline: N/A

Date: 14 April 2016

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The U.S. defense chief says the violent influence of the Islamic State group could be emboldening militants in the southern Philippines, who last week killed 18 Filipino troops.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter compared the slain Filipino soldiers to U.S. troops buried at an American World War II cemetery in Manila as he laid a wreath there Thursday.

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