THE military warned the public Friday against lone wolf attacks that might arise despite the fall of Islamic State strongholds in Iraq and in Southeast Asia.
In a Palace news briefing, military spokesperson Maj. Gen. Restituto Padilla said threats posed by the IS remain as its network is “increasingly becoming better.”
“The most dangerous thing that may come out is [is that] their remaining network… may still [pose] a… threat in many parts of the world, not only in the Philippines,” Padilla said.
“You have seen things happening in Europe.. [involving] lone wolf type attacks. And these are the kind of threats that may come out. So it is imperative that we all still continue to work together,” he added.
The IS or Daesh are known to use propaganda to recruit lone wolves, to retaliate against counter-terrorism measures implemented by states and security services.
Individuals without any clear, organic or hierarchical connection with a group or faction carry out the attacks unilaterally.
Experts say lone wolves represent an extremely difficult challenge for security and intelligence services, since they are relatively unpredictable, undetectable and effectively unstoppable.
Recently, American-backed forces were able to retake the northern Syrian city of Raqqa from the Islamic State, a major blow to the militant group, which had long used the city as the de facto capital of its self-declared caliphate.
In the Philippines, the military liberate Marawi City from IS-inspired terrorists and killed three of their top leaders, Isnilon Hapilon, Omar Maute and their Malaysian financier Mahmud Ahmad.
Padilla, however, said that they are still searching for Commander Baku, one of the group’s leaders.
Padilla said greater knowledge of the IS would help nations deal with them better.
In the same briefing, Padilla welcomed the move of some relatives of Hapilon and Maute to surrender to the government.
He also announced the successful rescue of 10 more hostages.
“With the number of hostages that have been rescued in the last 24 hours, we look forward to getting the rest of the hostages and [to] addressing the armed threat that still exists,” Padilla assured.
Padilla said with the threat in Marawi reduced, some forces would be moved to other areas.
“They will also be going back to Luzon for a much-needed break and for their long-delayed training in Fort Magsaysay and in other camps of the Philippine Army to enhance their skills and prepare them for their next mission,” Padilla said.
Other units would remain in Marawi to ensure the security of the residents during the rehabilitation and reconstruction phase, he said.
Padilla asked for patience and understanding from Marawi residents who have been wanting to return to their homes.
He said evacuees are still not allowed to enter the inner parts of the city until the military’s clearing operations are completed.
He emphasized the need to clear all areas of possible hazards, such as makeshift bombs and booby traps, and unexploded ordnance.
The Palace said Friday that martial law would remain in effect over the entire island of Mindanao despite the gains in Marawi City.
In a Palace news briefing, Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said that remnants of the networks supporting the Maute local terror group led by Maute, Hapilon and Mahmud remained intact.
“The death of the ringleaders of the Marawi rebellion… does not automatically result in the lifting of martial law,” Abella said.
“There are remnants including networks supporting the Maute cause within Mindanao. The President is duty-bound not to compromise public safety,” he added.
Abella said however, that Duterte will confer with the members of his Cabinet, particularly Defense Secretary and Martial Law Administrator Delfin Lorenzana and the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, who is the designated Martial Law Implementor, “on the necessary action to be taken.”
Earlier, the military expressed the need to continue martial law amid possible threats involving other parts of Mindanao, including retaliatory threats posed by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, which operates in Maguindanao and Cotabato.
Earlier, Duterte warned that the violence in Marawi could spread to areas controlled by the BIFF, which also pledged allegiance to the Islamic State.