Australia bracing for Daesh ‘at its doorstep’

March 27, 2017 7:00 pm

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop (photo by AFP)

’s Foreign Minister
Julie Bishop has warned that the terrorist group could establish a
stronghold in the southern Philippines, the nearest territory to
mainland Australia to likely become a hotbed of terrorist activities.

Bishop
told local media on Sunday that the leader of the Philippines-based
Daesh-linked Abu Sayyaf terrorist group had recently been declared an
“emir” — a title given to the leader of a so-called Daesh caliphate.

Citing
that development, Bishop said, “There is concern ISIS may well seek to
declare a caliphate in the southern Philippines,” using an English
acronym for Daesh. “This brings the threat right to our doorstep.”

Daesh,
which first emerged in the Middle East and later spread to North Africa
and Afghanistan, has been suffering heavy losses in Iraq and Syria, the
two countries where it has been significantly active. There is now
concern that efforts to eradicate Daesh in those countries are pushing
the terrorists to seek a foothold elsewhere.

Government
troops are seen at the site of a roadside blast in the village of
Matampay in Marawi City, Southern Mindanao, the Philippines, November
29, 2016. (Photo by AFP)Bishop said about 600
militants from Southeast Asia had been in the Middle East fighting for
Daesh and could soon return to the region as the Takfiri group loses
more territory to security forces fighting to take back land overrun by
the outfit.
She said that Australian security forces had already
been working closely with the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia to
identify and eradicate terrorist elements in the region.
The Abu
Sayyaf terrorist group, which has been conducting bombings, abductions,
assassinations, and extortions since its emergence in 1991 with seed
money from al-Qaeda, pledged allegiance to Daesh in the summer of 2014.

This photo, taken on October 13, 2015 from a video uploaded on YouTube, shows militants in the southern Philippines. (Via AFP)The Philippine government has been involved in military operations against the group in the south of the country.
Abu
Sayyaf’s power has reportedly diminished particularly since 2002, when
it was internationally declared a terrorist organization. In 2012, it
was estimated that the number of the group’s members had fallen from an
estimated 1,250 in 2000 to between 200 and 400 members.
But it could see battle-hardened terrorists coming in from elsewhere, including Iraq and Syria.

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