AFP on heightened alert after death of IS leader

MANILA An official of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said Monday the military would be on high alert to foil possible attempts by terrorist groups attempting to ride on the reported death of Islamic State (IS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi over the weekend.

"Our troops in the frontlines remain on high alert to thwart possible attempts to ride on this development," AFP spokesperson Marine Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said in a message to reporters.

Al-Baghdadi took control of IS in 2010 after which he rebuilt the terror group into an organization that overrun vast areas of Syria and Iraq he included in his self-declared caliphate.

US President Donald Trump on Sunday (US time) announced that al-Baghdadi had been killed in a US military operation in northwest Syria.

Trump said US Special Operations Forces conducted a raid Saturday night targeting al-Baghdadi, during which he killed himself by igniting a suicide vest.

Arevalo said the death of al-Baghdadi was a severe blow on terrorist organizations around the globe.

"We expect that his death will impact negatively on the leadership of terrorists in various parts of the world," Arevalo said.

"The AFP will continue with our vigorous efforts to prevent or counter terrorist extremists who continue to threaten our country," he added.

Not anticipating sympathy attacks

Arevalo, however, said the AFP is not anticipating any sympathy attacks in the Philippines from terrorist groups with connections to the ISIS leader or any other ISIS-inspired groups.

"We seriously doubt that (sympathy attack). If they are to conduct any terrorist atrocity, it will not be for that reason. But we are ready to combat any eventuality," he said.

While the death of the ISIS leader will affect local terrorist groups, Arevalo said this will be not to the point which could lead to the demise of these organizations.

"His death will definitely impact on local terrorist groups but not to the point of its demise," the AFP spokesperson stressed.

"Because with al Qaida leadership is centralized on bin Laden, that is why his death eventually led to its collapse. Unlike al Qaida, ISIS is essentially devolved from al-Bhagdadi their lesson owing from the mistake of the former," he added.

Arevalo emphasized that the death of the ISIS leader will translate to lesser terrorist activities due to the inspiration they derive from him.

He said the AFP would continue its campaign against IS-inspired groups from recruiting new members and exploiting the situation in the countryside.

"We will build from our triumph in Marawi in frustrating IS move to establish a caliphate in our country," he said, as he urged the public to stay alert and report to authorities any suspicious persons or activities in their areas.

Arevalo said the AFP would continue its campaign against IS-inspired groups from recruiting new members and exploiting the situation in the countryside.

"We will build from our triumph in Marawi in frustrating IS move to establish a caliphate in our country," he said, as he urged the public to stay alert and report to authorities any suspicious persons or activities in their areas. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency