PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino 3rd has warned that while the dreaded Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is yet to formally set foot on the Philippines, government security forces are on alert against what he calls “lone wolf” terrorist attacks, or those staged by ISIS sympathizers.
“As far as the Philippines is concerned, we will not rule out what they call ‘lone wolf’ attacks. A lone wolf attack is defined as somebody who doesn’t appear on anybody’s database, who suddenly shows up at your shores, does some terrorist acts and then leaves,” the President explained.
Citing a report by the National Security Agency (NSA), Aquino said those who pledged their allegiance to the ISIS were actually the same personalities who have been on government security forces’ radar.
In Mindanao, it has been reported that the ISIS has taken root and that many in the region have committed to the jihadist group.
“The danger always is with the lone wolf who suddenly gets radicalized by a social media site and one day decides, ‘I’ll be a terrorist,’” the President said.
According to him, the NSA has classified local terrorist groups’ allegiance to the ISIS as “rebranding,” meaning they were previously part of a group, such as the Jemaah Islamiyah, that had been decimated.
“As far as we are concerned, there have been people who have been posting their oath of allegiance to the caliph [of the ISIS]. Now, the head of the NSA tells me: ‘Sir, all of these people who have been posted and have been identified are the same people we’ve been after. They are just a rebranding,’” the President further explained.
By “lone wolf,” he said, these terrorists are not part of a bigger group because that may lead to their eventual identification.
“If they are part of the group, there is that bigger chance that they will be identified, they can be stopped prior to the commission of any act because they are known. Or [its]just [like], when you spot one member, chances are you will be able to reconnoiter the other members,” Aquino added.
According to him, other leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations were concerned about the spread of the ISIS’ influence in the region and that “they were talking about tackling the root causes.”
He acknowledged that to address the threat, the solution must not only be “military” in nature.
“Number one, the other issue was there should be condemnation of this.
There were points that were being raised [noting that]the solution is not purely military,” Aquino said.
“You cannot find the military solution to this problem,” he pointed out.
The “extremist belief” being espoused by the ISIS, the President said, was triggered by “dispossession, disenfranchisement and hopelessness.”
“The lack of opportunities is a situation where their hopelessness translates into going after some sort of extreme belief,” he added.