By Francis T. Wakefield
Army chief Lt. Gen. Rolando Bautista revealed yesterday the existence of ISIS sleeper cells not only in Mindanao but also in Visayas and Luzon.
Bautista made the revelation exactly one year after the Marawi siege. It took government forces months to liberate the city from the hands of Maute-ISIS, which are reportedly responsible for the terror cells formed to possibly orchestrate terrorist activities.
He said ISIS sleeper cells are believed scattered in Luzon specifically in Baguio City in the Cordillera Administrative Region; Dagupan City, Pangasinan; Tarlac in Central Luzon; and in the Visayas provinces of Samar and Cebu.
“They will orchestrate what we call terrorist activities. It might be in the form of lone wolf. If that is activated they might create or orchestrate terrorist activities,” Bautista said during a book launch highlighting what transpired in Marawi a year ago.
“For example they will conduct an explosion in an area in Cebu, assassination, liquidation that will create a big impact although only two or three persons are involved. So, most probably that’s their strategy for the meantime,” he added.
Bautista said following the neutralization of the Maute-ISIS hardcore fighters inside the main battle area (MBA), fragments of those with Isis influence continue to recruit new members.
“We all know that although the Maute-ISIS group has been reduced in terms of strength and capability there is still the Abu Sayyaf Group; there is the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF); there is the Khalifa Islamiyah Mindanao, which is short of saying that they also have influence of ISIS,” Bautista said.