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Saturday, January 16, 2016

Manila concerned that Filipinos could join IS

MANILA - The Philippines said it was concerned that Islamic State (IS) militants could recruit its nationals working in the Middle East, a day after militants linked to the group carried out an attack on Jakarta.

President Benigno Aquino told reporters that Philippine intelligence authorities would ask their Middle East counterparts to monitor possible radicalisation within the Filipino community in the region, which numbers up to two million.

Aquino said there was no “credible threat” of attacks by the IS in the Philippines in the wake of Thurs­day’s attacks in the Indonesian ca­pital, which left two civilians and five attackers dead, but warned of a “general threat”.

“We need to be prudent. We will coordinate with (Middle Eastern) intelligence agencies to monitor these communities to see if they have been influenced by IS,” he said.

“We can’t be like an ostrich, which burrows its head in the ground to avoid seeing the pro­blem,” he said.

“Is there a credible threat? Is there a specific threat? There is none. Is there a general threat? Yes. We are not immune from the extremism problem.”

This month, the Philippine-based Abu Sayyaf group released a video pledging allegiance to IS.

Aquino, however, belittled the group’s claim and said they were riding on IS’ notoriety. The group had previously been associated with IS rival al-Qaeda, he noted. — AFP

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