UN report: Islamic State in Philippines is ‘cash rich and growing’

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Islamic State

Filipino affiliates of the Islamic State “are cash rich and growing in membership” a United Nations report has warned. 

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The 22nd report of the ‘Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team’ was circulated among members of the UN Security Council yesterday (Monday, August 13).

It also indicated that go-betweens enabled the transfer of financial resources from the Islamic State (IS) “core” to affiliates in the country and arranged bomb-making and firearms training for recruits from Indonesia at camps in the Philippines.

The report also says that IS still has up to 30,000 members in Syria and Iraq, and that its global network poses a rising threat.

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The report said that despite the substantial defeat of IS in Iraq and most of Syria, it is likely that a reduced “covert version” of the militant group’s “core” will survive in both countries, with significant affiliated supporters in Afghanistan, Libya, Southeast Asia and West Africa.

With its physical caliphate largely destroyed, the Islamic State movement is transforming from a “proto-state” to a covert “terrorist” network with a global reach.

The flow of foreign fighters to IS in Syria and Iraq has come to a halt, the report said, but “the reverse flow, although slower than expected, remains a serious challenge”. 

The issue of battle-hardened jihadists returning from the Middle East to Southeast Asia has been a particular concern in the southern Philippines.

On Southeast Asia, the report concluded: “Despite last year’s heavy losses in the Philippines, IS affiliates in the country ‘are cash rich and growing in membership’. 

“Intermediaries facilitated financial transfers from the IS “core” to Philippines affiliates and arranged bomb-making and firearms training for recruits from Indonesia at camps in the Philippines. 

“Attacks in Indonesia by an IS-linked network using families as suicide bombers could become ‘a troubling precedent’.”

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