PETALING JAYA: The Islamic State (IS) has released a chilling new propaganda video through its division in the Philippines, in an attempt to radicalise and recruit Muslims in South-East Asia, especially from Malaysia.
The 21-minute clip released on Tuesday shows fighters from the region declaring the Philippines a caliphate, and beckoning compatriots to travel to the Philippines if they cannot join them in Syria.
A fighter, believed to be a Malaysian named Abu Aun al-Malysi, is also featured in the video.
“Do not be afraid comrades, all of us here are praying for you,” he said in the video, which is believed to have been filmed in Syria.
Abu Aun has been identified by local police as Mohd Rafi Udin from Negri Sembilan, a member of Kumpulan Mujahiddin Malaysia (KMM) who left Malaysia for Syria in 2014 to fight alongside IS.
The video also features militants from Indonesia and Philippines, who take turns addressing the camera to pledge support.
Meanwhile, Singapore’s Straits Times reported from Manila that the Philippine military has dismissed the video as mere “propaganda”.
“People should not be bothered by this because it is part of the propaganda they are propagating,” Brigadier-General Restituto Padilla, the military’s spokesman, told reporters.
Rita Katz, director of the Site Intelligence Group tracking IS activities, said the video was aired in five languages – Arabic, English, Tagalog, Indonesian and Malay – suggesting it was targeting to radicalise Muslims throughout the region.
Philippines president-elect Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday vowed to crush the Abu Sayyaf group, which is known for extortion, kidnappings, beheadings and bombings.
The group, on June 14, executed Robert Hall, 51, a Canadian and one of four hostages taken from an upscale resort in Davao province, 1,000km south of the capital Manila.
Hall was abducted along with another Canadian, John Ridsdel, 68, a Norwegian, Kjartan Sekkingstad, 57, and a Filipino, Maritess Flor, 41.
Ridsdel was beheaded on April 25. The fate of the other two hostages remain unknown.
Security forces have intensified operations against the Abu Sayyaf since Hall’s beheading.
On Tuesday, three Abu Sayyaf fighters were killed in a clash in the southern Sulu province.