The Battle of Marawi may have concluded, but the war is not yet over. Zia Alonto Adiong, Spokesman of Lanao del Sur Provincial Crisis Management Council, tells journalists that the government is aware of apparent moves by remnants of the terrorist Maute Group and its ISIS-linked supporters to ramp up the recruitment drive to beef up its rank of fighters.
ISIS stands for Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, a jihadist militant organization out to establish a caliphate, or Islamic state in Sunni majority regions of Iraq and Syria but had recently been crushed in its overt territories and has melted, so to speak, underground to continue waging a guerilla-style conflict.
“We have been receiving reports from the military that the recruitment is ongoing, because they have leaders who managed to slip away during the height of the fight [in Marawi], and these personalities are the ones starting to regroup again and recruit fighters,” Adiong said.
There are sources who say the Maute-ISIS group is offering a bonus of as much as PhP100,000 to entice new members.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) suspects that at the helm of the recruitment drive is a person identified as Abu Dar, who is wanted by the military.
Adiong added that there have been persistent feedback about looting that took place during the Marawi standoff, and the government believes much of the material loot, in cash and in kind, have been scooped away by the terrorists to beef up their financial resources: “Remember, this is a global war against terrorism, and this is an organized, well-organized, group, a well-financed group. That’s why we hear about them using money to entice potential fighters to join them.”
Other sources have indicated the possibility that the terrorists could likewise be headhunting not just in Mindanao. “Possibly, in Metro Manila and nearby areas.”
Indeed, some terrorists killed in Marawi were discovered to have been from Luzon.
At the same time, the AFP assures the public that there’s no reason to panic, as there is as yet no clear and present danger in the national capital region.
Soldiers continue to conduct interfaith and community immersion programs at Muslim enclaves in Metro Manila, on the belief that these activities can help promote open communication and protect communities from being infiltrated by extremist ideologies.