The leaders of the Maute terror group, brothers Omar and Abdullah Maute, and Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon planned to kill many Christians in Marawi City in order to turn it into an Islamic caliphate on the first day of the Ramadan, The Manila Times Online reported on Monday.
In a briefing on Sunday, Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Eduardo Ano said the terrorists planned to kill many non-Muslims to prove that they have established an Islamic state in Asia.
However, the military repulsed the Maute group’s attempt to take Marawi City, engaging the militants in fierce battles that had, so far, killed 191 terrorists and dozens of soldiers and civilians.
Meanwhile, Rohan Gunaratna, a Singaporean analyst on security affairs, said the terror group’s expansion began in 2014 when ISIS decided to go beyond borders of Iraq, Iran, Syria and the Middle East and set its sight on Africa, the Caucasus and Asia.
He said the Philippines was selected because the ISIS could not establish a caliphate in Indonesia. He added local terrorist groups were willing to support the extremism cause.
These include Abu Sayyaf’s leader Isnilon Hapilon’s group in Basilan, Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan’s band in Sulu, the Ansar Khalifa Philippines in the Soccsksargen region, the Maute group in Lanao del Sur, and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.
The military said the remaining militants are holed in fortified buildings and structures and are employing hostile sniper fires, mortar attacks, anti-tank rounds and improvised explosive devices to kill anyone, including relief and rescue workers and civilians.