ISIS targets South-east Asia radicals in latest recruitment video; 'propaganda', says Philippines

Soldiers standing guard at a military checkpoint in Sulu, southern Philippines, on June 15.
Soldiers standing guard at a military checkpoint in Sulu, southern Philippines, on June 15.PHOTO: EPA

MANILA -The Philippine military has dismissed as mere “propaganda” a video purportedly released by militants to recruit radicals from South-east Asia into the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

“People should not be bothered by this because it’s part of the propaganda they are propagating,” Brigadier-General Restituto Padilla, the military’s spokesman, told reporters.

The 21-minute video showed a man, said to be a Filipino, urging Muslims to unite under Isnilon Hapilon, chieftain of the small but brutal Abu Sayyaf group.

Ms Rita Katz, director of Site Intelligence Group tracking the activities of ISIS, said the video was aired in five languages – Arabic, English, Filipino, Indonesian and Malay – suggesting it was targeting to radicalise Muslims throughout the region.

Hapilon was described as “amir” or prince of the mujahideen in the Philippines.

“Do not pity them. Stab them with the use of bolo, pour gasoline on their residences. Be careful and be strong and don’t be misled by the tactics of the newly elected president of the Philippines in the person of (Rodrigo) Duterte,” the man in the video said.

In a speech on Tuesday (June 21), Mr Duterte had vowed to crush the Abu Sayyaf.

“There will be a time. There will be a reckoning,” said Mr Duterte.

He said this days after the Abu Sayyaf, known for extortion, kidnappings, beheadings and bombings, executed Mr Robert Hall, 51, a Canadian, one of four hostages taken from an upscale resort in Davao province, 1,000km south of the capital Manila.

Mr Hall was abducted along with another Canadian, Mr John Ridsdel, 68, a Norwegian, Mr Kjartan Sekkingstad, 57, and a Filipino, Ms Maritess Flor, 41.

Mr Ridsdel was beheaded on April 25.  The fate of the other two hostages remain unknown.

The man in the video, along with two other foreign ISIS members, were shown beheading three hostages. Before that, he said: “Today, we are slaughtering these murtads (Muslims who rejected Islam), but tomorrow, in your land we will slaughter you.”

He said Muslims “will wage war upon you, terrorising, casting fear in your hearts”.

Brig-Gen Padilla urged the public to ignore the video.

“If you are a member of the social media community, let us not dignify this. Let us not give importance to this (video).

Let’s do what is right, which is to delete it and don’t pass it to others,” he said.

He added: “What this evil force is doing should not be given space on our phones and computers. So, if you receive this (video), don’t pass it. They have nothing to day except spread evil and to propagate the values of radicalism and extremism.  There are not very human in nature. These are animalistic and evil in all its entirety.”

Security forces have intensified operations against the Abu Sayyaf since Mr Hall’s beheading.

On Tuesday (June 21), three Abu Sayyaf fighters were killed in a clash in the southern Sulu province.