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 Islamic State East Asia

(Also known as: Islamic State-Philippines, Ansharul Khilafah Philippines, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters – Bungos, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters – Abubakar, Jama'atu al-Muhajirin wal Ansar fil Filibin, Dawlah Islamiyah, Islamic State Lanao, Islamic State Ranao, Maute Group, Dawlatul Islamiyah Waliyatul Masrik)

This statement is based on publicly available information about Islamic State East Asia. To the Australian Government's knowledge, this information is accurate, reliable and has been corroborated by classified information.

Basis for listing a terrorist organisation

Division 102 of the Criminal Code provides that for an organisation to be listed as a terrorist organisation, the Attorney-General must be satisfied on reasonable grounds that the organisation:

  • is directly or indirectly engaged in, preparing, planning, or assisting in or fostering the doing of a terrorist act (whether or not a terrorist act has occurred or will occur); or
  • advocates the doing of a terrorist act (whether or not a terrorist act has occurred or will occur).

Background to this listing

This is the first time Islamic State East Asia has been proscribed by the Australian Government as a terrorist organisation.

Terrorist activity of the organisation

Objectives

Islamic State East Asia's primary objective is the establishment of an Islamic State under Shariah law in the Philippines. Its secondary objective is the wider imposition of Islamic rule beyond the Philippines. The Islamic State East Asia publically pledged its bay'ah (allegiance) to the proscribed terrorist organisation Islamic State in December 2015 and its aims are consistent with those of Islamic State. Its members are referred to as 'soldiers of the khilafah ('caliphate'), in Islamic State propaganda.

Directly or indirectly engaged in preparing, planning, assisting in or fostering the doing of terrorist acts

To achieve its objectives, Islamic State East Asia continues to conduct terrorist attacks against military and civilian targets in the Philippines. Tactics employed include armed assaults, murders and bombings.

Examples of terrorist attacks and actions for which Islamic State East Asia is responsible, or can be reliably held responsible, include:

  • 21 June 2017: attacking a military outpost in Pigcawayan, Cotabato Province, taking five hostages following the attack.
  • June 2017: executing a number of hostages in orange jumpsuits in Marawi City for being Christian, with an image of the hostages being shown in Islamic State's propaganda magazine, Rumiyah.
  • 23 May 2017: conducting a large-scale attack in Marawi City, Philippines, where they killed a large number of security officials and civilians, raising the Islamic State flag in some locations throughout the city. Islamic State subsequently published an account of this attack in its magazine, Rumiyah 11.
  • 26 November 2016: occupying the Butig town hall and raising the Islamic State flag.
  • 2 September 2016: bombing a market in Davao City killing 15 and injuring 69.
  • 28 August 2016: attacking a prison in Marawi City, rescuing eight members of the Maute Group.
  • 11 April 2016: beheaded two hostages in orange jumpsuits in Lanao, Philippines, mimicking a style of murder used by Islamic State.

Advocating the doing of terrorist acts

Islamic State East Asia has advocated the doing of terrorist acts, including:

  • A public statement on 28 June 2017, by an unidentified individual, likely an Islamic State East Asia member, on a pro-Islamic State chat group who said that Islamic State East Asia members across the Philippines should hunt down (kill) those who had abandoned Islam.
  • A public statement published on 8 June 2017, where Islamic State East Asia leader Isnilon Hapilon stated that Islamic State in East Asia had established a separate Islamic State and encouraged further individuals to travel to take part in the armed conflict against the 'crusader' Philippine Government.
  • On 5 May 2017, Islamic State East Asia used Islamic State's Amaq media distribution wing to post a photo report from “Abu Anas al-Muhajir Camp” which showed fighters at a training camp conducting target practice and small weaponry drills.
  • On 21 June 2016, Islamic State East Asia with the assistance of Islamic State, released a 21 minute video titled Solid Structure, which featured footage of South East Asian foreign fighters affiliated with Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. These individuals encouraged the murders of 'polytheists and apostates' and encouraged the overthrow of 'tyrant' governments of Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines.

Details of the organisation

Islamic State East Asia is affiliated with Islamic State and it follows an extreme interpretation of Islam which is anti-Western, promotes sectarian violence and targets those who do not agree with its interpretation as infidels and crusaders. It opposes elected governments, seeking to remove them through violence if necessary.

Islamic State East Asia is comprised of a number of violent extremist organisations, who have pledged allegiance to Islamic State and merged under the Islamic State East Asia banner. It is comprised of members of extremist organisations including the Maute Group, a faction of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters under Esmail Abubakar (AKA Commander Bungos), Ansharul Khilafah Philippines, Dawlatul Islamiyah Waliyatul Masrik and Jama'atu al-Muhajirin wal Ansar fil Filibin. All of these groups adhere to a violent jihadist ideology that predated Islamic State's existence. All of these groups previously publically pledged allegiance together to Islamic State in December 2015, and have since undertaken terrorist acts that Islamic State claimed responsibility for.

Since undertaking bay'ah to Islamic State, these groups have conducted increasingly violent acts to achieve its goals, including beheadings that mimic those conducted by Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. This culminated with the large-scale attack on Marawi City on 23 May 2017, conducted under the name Islamic State East Asia. Based on Isnilon Hapilon's move from Basilan Province to Lanao del Sur Province in January 2017, Marawi city's description as an Islamic city and the group's reconnaissance of Marawi it is likely their objective was to overthrow, by force or violence, the Philippine Government presence in Marawi and replace it through the declaration of a caliphate.

Leadership

The leader of Islamic State East Asia is Isnilon Hapilon (AKA Abu Abdallah, Abu Abdillah al-Muhajir). While Hapilon has been named by Islamic State as the group's leader, a number of other individuals such as Abdullah Maute, Omar Maute, Amin Baco, Esmail Abubakar (AKA Commander Bungos) and Mahmud bin Ahmad also hold senior leadership positions in Islamic State East Asia. This has resulted in a centralised leadership structure, which retains its allegiance to Islamic State and shares its ideology and objectives.

Membership

Islamic State East Asia total membership is uncertain, but is estimated to be upwards of 300 individuals. This number could fluctuate quickly, as Islamic State East Asia members could be recruited quickly from other militant groups. While most members are native to Western Mindanao and Sulu Archipelago, there are also members from other parts of the Philippines, as well as Indonesia and Malaysia.

Recruitment and funding

Islamic State East Asia exploits poor economic and social conditions in the Philippines, particularly Mindanao and neighbouring regions to attract members. Local and regional recruits are drawn by Islamic State East Asia's ability to provide economic prospects for its members and to avoid persecution by the group. Some individuals have also joined due to their ideological support for the organisation's objectives, including violently establishing an Islamic State under Shariah law.

Islamic State has provided money to Islamic State East Asia to fund its terrorist activities, including money which was used to fund the attack on Marawi City on 23 May 2017.

Links to other terrorist organisations

Islamic State East Asia is affiliated with Islamic State.

Islamic State East Asia is comprised of members who were previously aligned with other Islamist extremist groups, including Maute Group, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, Ansharul Khilafah Philippines, Dawlatul Islamiyah Waliyatul Masrik and Jama'atu al-Muhajirin wal Ansar fil Filibin.

Links to Australia

While there are no known links between Islamic State East Asia and Australia, there have previously been links between Australians and terrorist groups in the Philippines.

Threats to Australian interests

Islamic State East Asia has not made statements specifically threatening Australians or Australian interests; however, the group has issued statements threatening Westerners and Western interests in general. It is probable Australians could be harmed in the group's future attacks, due to the considerable Australian business interests and the number of Australian travellers in the Philippines.released by his captors in March 2013.

Listed by the United Nations or like-minded countries

Islamic State East Asia is not listed by the United Nations or like-minded countries.

Engagement in peace or mediation processes

Islamic State East Asia is not engaged in any peace or mediation processes with the Philippine Government.

Conclusion

On the basis of the above information, ASIO assesses that Islamic State East Asia is directly or indirectly engaged in, preparing, planning, assisting in or fostering the doing of terrorist acts or advocates the doing of terrorist acts, involving threats to human life and serious damage to property.

In the course of pursuing its objectives, Islamic State East Asia is known to have committed or threatened actions that:

  1. cause, or could cause, death, serious harm to persons, serious damage to property, endanger life (other than the life of the person taking the action), or create a serious risk to the health or safety of the public or a section of the public;
  2. are intended to have those effects;
  3. are done with the intention of advancing Islamic State East Asia' political, religious or ideological causes;
  4. are done with the intention of intimidating the government of one or more foreign countries; and
  5. are done with the intention of intimidating the public or sections of the public.