Published: Thu, March 01, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

Terrorist tag on ISIS, Maute Group lauded

The Philippines' Presidential Office said the US move affirmed Manila's belief that Maute were local terrorists supported by foreign extremists, ABS-CBN News reported.

The Philippine's Department of National Defense (DND) spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said that with the Maute Group and the Islamic state in the Philippines (IS-P) both now on the FTO list, the DND expects that these groups will find it more hard to carry out their plans.

"The inclusion of the Maute Group and ISIS Philippines in the USA list of foreign terrorist organizations is an affirmation of what Philippine authorities already know - that the Maute Group and the Dawlah-Islamiya are terrorist groups that need to be dealt with decisively using the full force of the law", he added.

The U.S. move, announced in Washington on Tuesday, was a "positive development in the campaign against terrorism", Philippine presidential spokesman Harry Roque said. "This likewise recognizes the decisive action we have taken in liberating Marawi from these terrorists".

He said the inclusion of the Maute group on the USA list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists and Foreign Terrorist Organizations showed "the solidarity and resolve of the worldwide community" against threat groups.

Both groups carried out the five-monthlong siege of Marawi City in Lanao del Sur that ravaged the Moro's center of Islamic faith in the country.

"Terrorism is a global and regional challenge and cooperation with key allies is critical in averting terrorist operations", DFA Undersecretary Ernesto Abella said in a press briefing Wednesday.

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Earlier, the US State Department has designated the ISIS Philippines, ISIS West Africa and ISIS Bangladesh as "SDGTs" under Section 1 (b) of Executive Order 13224 as "Foreign Terrorist Organizations" pursuant to Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

As a result of the designations, USA persons are now prohibited from engaging in transactions with ISIS-West Africa, ISIS-Philippines, or ISIS-Bangladesh. It makes it a crime for any American citizen to provide, or attempt to conspire to provide material support or resources to at the blacklisted organizations. In November that year, the group attempted to detonate a bomb near the U.S. Embassy in Manila.

Two individuals were also added to the foreign terrorist list: ISIS-Somalia deputy leader Mahad Moalim and ISIS-West Africa leader Abu Musab al-Barnawi.

In including ISIS-Philippines and the Maute Group, the State Department noted ISIS's video of militants in the Philippines pledging allegiance to ISIS in June, 2016. The US list confirmed the existence of ISIS members in the Philippines, other than their local counterparts who are members of the Maute Group.

"We did not scale it down after the bombing in Davao because, of course, we always recognize that the threat of terrorism is always there", Albayalde said.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte immediately declared martial law in Mindanao and has twice requested for an extension.

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