Philippines Receives Warnings of New IS-linked Group

08/12/2019 Philippines (International Christian Concern) – Philippine security officials have been placed on heightened alert following a report that a group allied to the Islamic State (IS) was targeting churches and establishments for bomb attacks in the north, officials said last Tuesday.

BenarNews reports that a group identifying itself as Suyuful Khilafa Fi Luzon (SKFL) was scouting for targets to make its presence felt in an area where IS-linked groups are not known to operate. To date, IS affiliates have mostly been conducting their activities in the country’s south.

Little is known about the group, but loosely translated, its name means “soldiers of the caliphate in Luzon.” Most of its members were once allied with the Rajah Solaiman Movement (RSM), according to intelligence officials.

The RSM, composed of Filipino Christians who converted to Islam, pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda two decades ago. Government forces subsequently killed its leaders, leading to the apparent collapse of the RSM.

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo confirmed last week that the military was on heightened alert in the north, amid intelligence reports that members of the SKFL group were plotting attacks. The national police also said troops were on the ground checking to determine if an IS-linked group was preparing attacks.

Anti-terror analyst Rommel Banlaoi, chairman of Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research, said the group appeared to be small but “can make big trouble by training suicide bombers.”

“I saw the intelligence report and the churches under bomb threat locations are called ‘crusader cities’ in Luzon,” Banlaoi told BenarNews.

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