After arresting ISIS financier Rasdy Malawani in Quezon City, Philippine security forces are now hunting an online ISIS recruiter involved in regrouping new ISIS-inspired fighters to continue their armed struggle for a caliphate in the Southern Philippines.
When Philippine military officials announced that ISIS-inspired leaders Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute were killed after a five-month battle with Philippine soldiers, it was surmised to be the end of ISIS but President Rodrigo Duterte told the people on a nationally televised coverage to prepare for possible retaliation from the local ISIS group.
Just a few days after Duterte made this announcement, Philippine intelligence officials said that the local ISIS franchisee in the Philippines has begun its recruitment drive.
Col Romeo Brawner of the Army's Joint Task Group in Marawi said that the local ISIS group has begun recruiting new fighters online by using the photos of the Marawi destruction. "There are new moves to recruit fresh fighters and it is being done through the social media," said Brawner.
Military intelligence community identified a certain "Abu Dar" who is now on the military's watchlist and is being pursued by military agents.
Last October 11, government agents also arrested 36-year-old Karen Aisha Hamidon who reported to recruit fighters to join the ISIS fight in Marawi. Hamidon was responsible for the recruitment of Indian nationals to fight for ISIS in Marawi.
Another government agency, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) noted that Hamidon had 296 messages seeking new recruits for the Marawi battle. The NBI will be using the phone messages as evidence against Hamidon for inciting rebellion.
Hamidon was reported to be the wife of Mohammad Jaafar Maguid, the leader of another ISIS-linked militant group known as Ansar Al Khilafa.
Hamidon will be facing charges that include 14 counts of inciting to rebellion. She will also be tried for her involvement in the recruitment of IS fighters.
Brawner said the online recruitment drive is still ongoing and they are targeting the youth.
Military authorities also announced that the arrest of the ISIS financier and recruiter is part of the government's security drive in preparation for the 31st ASEAN Summit which will be held in Manila this November 2017.
Though ISIS leaders Hapilon and Maute have already been killed, the government is facing another group of ISIS-inspired militant organizations in Mindanao. They are the Abu Sayyaf Group and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).Like the Maute-ISIS group, The BIFF is fighting for the establishment of an Islamic caliphate in Maguindanao.
Duterte ordered the deployment of 10 new army battalions to go after the remaining ISIS groups in the Southern Philippines but Mindanao academicians believe that the solution to Mindanao's rising insurgency cannot be done by military alone but it should involve a holistic approach.
Dr. Adrian Semorlan, a Mindanao-based Sociology professor, said, the industries, the business and the academics can also play a huge role in addressing this social challenge.