THE Abu Sayyaf Group had “officially” pledged allegiance to the caliph of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and named new leaders aligned with the international Islamic extremist group, according to a video released by the ASG.
The video, which was uploaded at Archived.org website on January 4, showed more than 30 armed militants led by Isnilon Hapilon hiking in the hinterlands of Basilan province while chanting the “Dawlah Islamiyah [Islamic State]” after which they recited an Arabic script of bayah or pledge of allegiance.
Hapilon alias Abu Abdullah was named as the new leader of the “Harakatul Islamiyah”[Islamic Movement]” the new name given to the ASG, which is known for having carried out kidnappings, bombings and other criminal activities in Mindanao in the past.
The US government offered a $5 million reward for Hapilon’s head.
Hapilon was shown in the video with Abu Harith Al-Filibbieni , an alleged deputy commander of the al-Ansar Infantry Division of the ISIS, and Mohd Najib Husen alias Abu Annas Al Muhajir, an alleged division head of the Ansar al-Sharia of the ISIS.
The rebels explained in the video that they had previously done the bayah but were doing it again “officially” in front of their named leaders.
It was unknown when the video was created but it was released after the Army’s Western Mindanao Command claimed last month that Husen was killed during operations in Basilan against the ASG bandits.
Husen was with other Malaysian foreigners namely Mahmud Ahmad, Muhammad Joraimee Awang Raimee, Amin Baco and Jeknal Adil, who fled to southern Philippines reportedly to recruit militants and send them to “Dar al-Harb [place of war],” referring to Syria and Iraq, where the ISIS had established its own caliphate state.
The ASG hoisted a black flag similar to those being used by the Khilafah Islamiyah Movement (KIM) and other hardline radical jihadist groups like the Boko Haram in Africa.
In Maguindanao and nearby provinces, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and the Ansarul Khilafah had also pledged allegiance to the ISIS “officially.”
Radical militants in Indonesia and Malaysia including the Southeast Asian terror group Jema’ah Islamiyah had also done the same.