MANILA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK): A Filipino national is suspected to be the first Asian to be involved in beheadings by the Islamic State In Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants.
The man, who appeared in a video released over the beheadings of 18 Syrian soldiers and American aid worker Peter Kassig last Sunday, is believed to be of Asian origin but was not named in the report by British online site Daily Mail on Wednesday.
"Kurdish sources familiar with the movement of ISIS militants in Syria and Iraq identified one of the men as a Filipino national," according to the report.
Malaysian, Indonesian and Filipino anti-terror authorities have been trying to verify the man's nationality and identity since the appearance of the graphic video of beheadings on YouTube.
Two Frenchmen, Michael Dos and Maxime Hauchard, both 22, have been named as among the militants in the video. Another militant was identified as Belgian Abdelmajid Gharmaoui, 28.
"Since the latest ISIS video was released, the militants in the video have been linked to a large number of countries - Britain, Australia, Germany, Denmark, the Philippines, Russia and the US," the report said.
The Philippine military downplayed the possibility of Filipinos joining ISIS.
"There is no confirmed report on (ISIS) recruitment here in the Philippines," military spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Harold Cabunoc said in a text message on Thursday.
"The authenticity of the video couldn't be ascertained. The law enforcement agencies must be consulted. We are coordinating with local leaders to prevent (ISIS) recruitment efforts and join our counter-radicalisation campaign in the communities," he added.
The recent graphic video was the latest of the documentations of mass executions and atrocities released by the militants.
Reports that circulated in recent months said that Filipinos were training to join ISIS abroad and two were supposedly killed in fighting extremists in Syria.
The Department of Foreign Affairs earlier said it had received reports of Filipinos undergoing training in Iran and who were deployed in Syria, but these reports were unverified.
There were also persistent reports that there was a massive recruitment of ISIS in Mindanao, where the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf and the Muslim separatist Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters operate.
Both groups claimed to have pledged allegiance to the ISIS but the military said they were only riding its popularity.
Malaysian militants who fled to southern Philippines are also reported to be involved in the recruitment of fighters to Syria and Iraq.
According to reports, militants from Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines have formed a military unit for Malay-speaking fighters in Syria and analysts fear this could expand their reach in South-East Asia.
The unit is called Katibah Nusantara Lid Daulah Islamiyyah, or Malay archipelago unit for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.