Jihadists targetting more beauty pageants

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LOCAL affiliates of the Islamic State (IS) group are eyeing more targets in Min­danao to “cast fear” in the heart of their enemies, aside from the 2017 Miss Universe pageant to be held in the Philippines.

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In their online fora, the jihadists said they are gathering information on schedules of “beauty pageants in the country” that they apparently plan to attack.

Among the other targets that they cited are this year’s festivals in the region, including Kada­yawan and Kalivungan held in the cities of Davao and Kidapawan, respectively.

The Mutya ng Cotabato pageant in Kidapawan City for the Kalivungan Festival will highlight the 102nd founding anniversary celebrations of North Cotabato province.

There are no scheduled beauty contests for this month’s Kada­yawan Festival but Davao is among the proposed cities that candidates of the 2017 Miss Universe contest would be visiting for their pre-pageant activities.

The others are the cities of Cebu, Cagayan de Oro and Vigan, and tourist spots in the Visayas such as Palawan and Boracay, the Department of Tourism department had said.

The international beauty pa­geant is scheduled to begin on January 30, 2017 but organizers are yet to determine the venue for the event.

Authorities said security measures are being prepared for the pageant while imminent threats from radicals are being monitored.

SITE Intel Group, an international agency that tracks online activities of jihadist organizations, recently named those behind the online fora as “IS Philippines supporters” and the fora as a platform for “Commentary of the Ummah.”

Ummah are Muslim clerics.

The fora were carried by a Telegram app where audiences are asked to create home-made bombs—through the help of video and manual tutorials—that will be lobbed at beauty pageants.

The intelligence group said the online materials are “old production of Sawt al-Jihad (Voice of Jihad) showing the preparation and demonstration of an explosive belt for suicide operations.

The timed hand grenade manual is from Issue 14 of Inspired magazine of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), according to the group.

The jihadists said lone wolf attacks were ordered by a certain Abdul Rahman, who is in Al-Raqqah province in Syria and fighting alongside the IS.

“Cast fear in their heart,” Abdul Rahman was quoted by the group as saying.

The only identified Filipino in Syria with the name Abdul Rahman was the one who ordered last month all IS supporters in the Philippines and nearby countries—Malaysia and Indonesia—to wage war in the Philippines if they could not travel to Syria.

Abdul Rahman, known to Phi­lippine authorities as among the remnant senior leaders of the Khilafah Islamiyah Movement (KIM), remains at large.

His order came a few days after the IS official media outlet called Dabiq distributed its 15th issue naming the Philippines as among their “wilayat” or provinces.

In the recent issue, the magazine recalled their “successful operations” in the provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Lanao del Sur.

Last Monday, the group claimed to have “hit” a warplane in ongoing clashes with government troops in Basilan.

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