Presence of 1,200 ISIS militants threatens Southeast Asia

Malaysia, Philippines and Indonesia are set to meet on June 19 to discuss the deployment of naval forces in Sulu strait to tackle terror threats.

Philippine troops rescue Filipino ship captain abducted by militants
Philippines troops in action. Reuters

As the Indonesian defence confirms the presence of 1,200 ISIS-inspired militants in the Philippines, Malaysia Defence Minister, Hishammuddin Hussein, during the Security Summit in Singapore, strongly appealed for a joint security patrols in the Sulu Strait in anticipation of a possible spill off of ISIS violence into the region.

Malaysia, Philippines and Indonesia are set to meet on June 19 to discuss the deployment of naval forces in Sulu strait and the countries' borders as a result of the worsening conflict in Philippines city Marawi.

Hishammuddin said the three countries initiated to hold this joint patrol "to avoid being accused of doing nothing."

Asian media described the Sulu strait as the emerging Somalia of Southeast Asia. Somalia is known for maritime piracy that threatened commercial shipping vessels in the seawaters.

The ASEAN defence minister earlier met in Singapore to discuss the disturbing armed conflict that is still going on Marawi City.

Meanwhile, the Australia government also announced that more ASEAN ISIS fighters from Iraq and Syria might return back to ASEAN countries and they might take up arms against their governments.

Shipping companies in the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam already have raised concerns to their respective governments but no concrete measures have been taken yet.

There are four major armed major militant groups, which have established bases in the Philippines. Moreover, they have also pledged their allegeicne to ISIS. These terror groups are: The Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), Abu Sayyaf Group, Ansar Khalifa and the Maute Group.

The Abu Sayyaf Group is known for maritime piracy that has been abducting Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippine sailors and asking ransom moneys for their release. Since 2012, they reportedly raked US D 12 million for their maritime piracy and kidnap for ransom activities.

The ongoing Marawi firefight between Philippines soldiers and Maute Group militants has already claimed the lives of 120 terrorists, 38 soldiers and 30 civilians. While there are 2,500 residents trapped in the crossfire, there are more than 110,000 displaced persons who flee Marawi to stay temporarily in nearby cities and municipalities.