Indonesian, Malaysian IS Figures Recognize Philippine Leader in Islamic State Video

Hata Wahari
Kuala Lumpur
160623-MY-philippines-is-620.jpg Philippine soldiers display an Islamic State flag that they captured while overrunning a militant camp in Butig, a town in the southern Philippine province of Lanao del Sur.

In a new Islamic State propaganda video, Malaysian and Indonesian fighters declare their support for an IS leader in the southern Philippines and urge IS supporters in their home countries who have been unable to travel to Syria to go to the Philippines instead.

The two men and a Filipino also carry out what appears to be the beheading of three prisoners who kneel in front of them, hands bound, in orange jumpsuits. If real, they would mark the first filmed beheadings by Indonesian and Malaysian members of the so-called Islamic State.

The 21-minute video, viewed by BenarNews, combines footage apparently shot in the Middle East and a Southeast Asian country. It was recently uploaded to social media, possibly last week, Reuters reported, citing a military intelligence official in the Philippines.

The three executioners take turns addressing followers in their own countries. One of the three is Mohd Rafi Udin, a member of Kumpulan Mujahiddin Malaysia (KMM) who went to Syria in 2014, according to the Malaysian newspaper New Straits Times.

“People in Bukit Aman, you will not be safe. We will slaughter you … when we return. Our friends back home will hunt you down,” he says, warning members of the Royal Malaysia Police that they will be targeted in attacks.

He urges IS supporters at home to use any means to kill non-Muslims and non-believers “wherever you meet them.”

One step closer

The video also names Abdullah al-Filipini – also known as Isnilon Totoni Hapilon – as the leader of IS’s Southeast Asian wing Khatibah Nusantara.

Isnilon is a former deputy leader of Abu Sayyaf Group based in the southern Philippines island of Basilan, whose followers pledged allegiance to IS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in 2015.

Sidney Jones, director of the Jakarta-based Institute of Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC), called the video significant.

“[F]or the first time, Indonesians and Malaysians are indicating that they accept an emir from the Philippines (Isnilon Hapilon, ex-Abu Sayyaf), bringing us one step closer to the declaration of a Southeast Asian province (wilayat) of IS,” she told BenarNews.

Rohan Gunaratna, director of the International Center for Political Violence and Terrorism Research at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, said counter-terrorism forces in Malaysia had so far disrupted nine attempted IS-directed or inspired attacks in the country.

“With IS plans to declare a wilayat in the southern Philippines, the Malaysian government will have to work very closely with their foreign counterparts to assist the Philippines to fight the threat,” Gunaratna, who is also a BenarNews columnist, said Thursday.

“The threat to Southeast Asia and beyond will grow dramatically unless the Manila government neutralizes the IS nucleus in Mindanao, as Southeast Asian and other nationalities will travel to the Philippines when it is difficult to travel to Syria and Iraq,” he said.


About 1,000 Southeast Asians had joined IS in Iraq and Syria by the end of 2015, according to the U.S. State Department.

IS claimed an attack in downtown Jakarta in January 2016 that left eight people dead, including the four attackers.

More attacks are likely in the region, security officials said, with IS aiming to prove its potency as its so-called caliphate is beaten back in Iraq and Syria by the governments of those countries and international forces.

“We are preparing for potential attacks within six months by two sources, Khatibah Nusantara in the Philippines, and central IS,” Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay, the head of the Malaysian police’s counter-terrorist special branch, told the New Straits Times, commenting on the new video.

“Targeted attacks will likely be carried out the minute the pledge of allegiance to IS from these groups outside Syria is accepted and the areas they operate in are declared theirs,” he added.

Malaysian Inspector General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar said his forces had kept IS threats at bay thus far.

“Malaysian police are ready at the very highest level for any eventual attacks by IS,” he told BenarNews.

Philippine military officials, meanwhile, dismissed the threats, according to Reuters.

“People should not be bothered by this,” the news agency quoted Philippine military spokesman Restituto Padilla as saying. “Authorities are working on this. They can be identified, and they can be hunted down.”


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