Lorenzana claims terrorists planning ‘caliphate’ in Central Mindanao
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Thursday a local terrorist group linked with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is planning to establish its base in Central Mindanao .
Lorenzana confirmed local terrorist groups, including the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and Maute Brothers have direct link to the international terrorist group which have been losing their territory in the Middle East .
Lorenzana said authorities were able to confirm that link of the local terrorist group to ISIS in December 2016, when Isnilon Hapilon, a leader of ASG, with some of his men left Basilan and went to Butig, Lanao Del Sur.
“He ( Hapilon) just brought a small band of his people. The bulk of his people are still in Basilan, I think he went there just to see the area, to find out if it is conducive for them to move there, and establish what you call the caliphate or wilayat of the ISIS . Fortunately we found out that he is there, so we are pursuing him there in Butig,” he added.
Lorenzana assures the military will ensure the terrorist group will not be able to achieve their goal.
“Now we will see to it that they will not be able to establish that kind of organization here, the ISIS ,” he said.
In a press release, Col. Edgard Arevalo, AFP Public Affairs Chief claimed that the terrorist group in Butig sustained “major casualty” after they bombarded the enemy position on midnight of Wednesday or Thursday morning but he did not give details.
“The AFP's Western Mindanao Command under Major General Carlito Galvez, Jr. through 103rd IB under Army Col Nixon Fortes had another major breakthrough in its intensified campaign against the terror groups of ASG, Maute, and foreign terror groups holed in the hinterlands of Butig, Lanao del Sur,” Arevalo said.
“The terror groups are reported to have sustained a major casualty with a number of them dead or seriously wounded after a midnight (between the 25th and 26th January 2017) surgical air strike and a well-directed and observed artillery rounds accurately landed in the identified locations of the terror groups,” he added.
Arevalo said “ground troops have established foothold and begun their assault to the same objective of the preliminary attack midnight.”
“They are now cautiously advancing to their designated objectives ? the location of ASG Leader Isnilon Hamilon, his select group, and the Brothers Abdullah, Omar, and Otto Maute, and possibly other foreigners joining their notorious group,” he said.
“We will await validated details of the results of this operation as soon as we get confirmations from our troops now on the ground," he added.
Major Carlito Galvez, AFP Western Mindanao Commander, said he will pursue them.
“We will not allow them to thrive in any part of our country to sow terror to our people. You’re Armed Forces of the Philippines ?through the support of our people and local government as shown in this case ? will frustrate every attempt to disrupt our normal lives,” he said.
Arevalo said after learning about the development, AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo A?o told his men: "You will have the support you need in all your endeavors in contribution to attain the mission given to us by the Commander in Chief. Let us together end in six months the menace these terror groups bring." Robina Asido/DMS