Southeast Asia’s jihadis who fought by the hundreds for the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria now have a different battle closer to home in the southern Philippines. And Washington is growing very concerned.
The recent assault by IS-aligned fighters on the Philippine city of Marawi has left more than 300 people dead. That exposed the shortcomings of local security forces and the extremist group’s spreading reach in a region where counterterrorism gains are coming undone.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told Congress last week that a long-running U.S. military operation to help Philippine forces contain extremist fighters was canceled prematurely three years ago. And some lawmakers, including from President Donald Trump’s Republican Party, want a bigger U.S. role.