Philippines: Security Outlook Following the Liberation of Marawi City

The Philippines continues to face the threat of terrorism despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent declaration of the liberation of Marawi City from Maute Group militants on 17 Oct 2017. The siege of Marawi, which began on 23 May 2017, concluded with the deaths of at least 822 militants, 162 government troops, and 47 civilians. Approximately 359,600 people have been displaced from the four-month conflict.

The destruction of Marawi as both a capital city of the Philippines’s Lanao del Sur province, and as a former terrorist stronghold, has generated public resentment towards the government, along with the prospect of radicalization. In Sep 2017, IS released a video to encourage Islamic extremists to join the insurgency in the Philippines, citing Marawi as a source of inspiration. The remnants of foreign IS fighters of Indonesian, Malaysian, Chechen and Arab origin, are believed to still operate within the Mindanao region, and may attempt to stage retaliatory strikes in key areas such as Metro-Manila.

Returning Islamic fighters from Syria and Iraq have the potential to instigate additional terror attacks in the near future, given their training and experience in foreign warzones. The recent mass-shooting incident at the Resorts World Manila on 2 Jun 2017 have also highlighted the threat posed by determined individuals or groups.

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