Philippines verifying video claiming to show Daesh camp
Military calls video of alleged training camp in Mindanao island ‘propaganda’ by local rebels to ‘show that they are underprivileged people’

The Philippines’ military is verifying a video claiming to show a Daesh training camp in the archipelago’s Muslim south, according to an official Wednesday.

Colonel Restituto Padilla, Armed Forces Philippines spokesperson, told reporters at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City that authorities are analyzing the video to determine whether a group with credible links to the international extremist organization actually has a presence in Mindanao island.

"It will undergo cyber-forensics," ABS-CBN News quoted him as saying in the local Tagalog language. "We are not taking this kind of information lightly. We are not also denying that there are groups possibly inspired by or sympathetic to ISIS [Daesh], but so far, we haven't yet seen direct links.”

In the video, a Tagalog-speaking man dressed in an all-black garb associated with Daesh urges "brethren” to arms while gunmen wave the Middle Eastern group’s flag as alleged recruits train through a makeshift obstacle course made of bamboo and barbed wire mesh.

The speaker says, "Many of us are turning our backs [on our country]. The Kafirs [unbelievers] have long since been an obstacle to practicing our beliefs, such as growing a beard, or our women wearing hijab. And make it difficult for us to practice our very own religion.”

He then calls for attacks on "unbelievers” in Mindanao -- a region torn apart by decades of armed conflict that is among the most underdeveloped in the country.

Padilla, however, described the video Wednesday as a tool by outlaw groups in the region to recruit more members.

"It is getting harder for them to recruit members, they are especially doing mostly criminal activities, theft, cattle rustling, kidnapping and extortion,” he said. "They need propaganda to show that they are underprivileged people.”

Major Filemon Tan, Western Mindanao Command spokesperson, has also referred to videos and photos circulating online regarding Daesh recruitment and a training camp as merely propaganda by local rebels calling themselves Ansar al-Khalifa Philippines (Supporters of the Caliphate of the Philippines).

Last month, the presidential palace also denied that Daesh had set up camp in the Philippines’ jungles, as well as any presence of the group in the archipelago.

Citing a report from National Security Adviser Sec. Cesar Garcia, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said that some Daesh associated personalities, however, had tried to connect with local militant groups.

"Some of these ISIS-linked personalities, who are really few in number, have also sought refuge in the base areas of these local terrorist groups," he added.

The Philippines, a predominantly Catholic country, has a concentration of indigenous Muslims in Mindanao.

Last year, two militant groups in the south -- the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf -- pledged allegiance to Daesh, prompting fears that the group could make inroads in the region.

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Last Modified: 2015-12-24 09:36:55
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