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JIHADIST attacks used to be focused on the Western nations – on the United States and Western Europe. The Islamic State carried out attacks in Paris, France, in November last year, killing some 130 people. Last March, the group carried out attacks in Brussels, Belgium, killing 30. American presidential candidate Donald Trump of the Republican Party was moved to call for a ban on the entry into the United States of all Muslim refugees.
Recent incidents, however, indicate that the religious factor did not appear to be the main driving force of Islamic State attacks. Last Tuesday, a gun and suicide bomb rampage at the Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul, Turkey, killed 45 people. Turkey is a Muslim country just north of Syria, from whose shores millions of Syrian refugees have sought to reach Europe on decrepit boats.
Saturday night, Islamist extremists killed 20 foreigners in a restaurant in Dhaka, Bangladesh, another Muslim nation next to India which used to be known as East Pakistan. Witnesses said the terrorists separated the foreigners – mostly Italians and Japanese – from the locals, then attacked them with bladed weapons.
The next day. In Baghdad, Iraq, another Muslim state, at least 213 were killed when a suicide car bomb ripped through a crowded shopping area filled with people shopping ahead of the holiday Eid’l Fitr, marking the end of Ramadan.
The Islamic State, which goes by the name Daesh among its adherents, start grabbing world attention when it overran wide areas in Syria and Iraq, as it trumpeted its goal of reestablishing a worldwide Muslim caliphate. It came to be associated with the enslaving of minority groups in Iraq and the beheading of Western newsmen covering the Mideast war
It seems to have inspired extremists of all kinds, including a second-generation American of Afghan parents who killed 49 in a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, last month. Before that, last December, a couple of Pakistani descent shot up a county center in San Bernardino, California, killing 14 people. In both cases, there was no evidence that the attacks were orchestrated from abroad, only that the killers said they were inspired by the Islamic State.
There have been reports that the Islamic State has now created a province in the Philippines with some groups of the Abu Sayyaf, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front said to be among its adherents. The Abu Sayyaf, it may be noted, has even taken to beheading its captives, as the Islamic State has done in the Middle East.
The new Duterte administration is now focused on ending the many years of rebellion of the communist New People’s Army and the secessionist movement of the Moro liberation forces in Mindanao. In the wake of the series of attacks in France, Belgium, the US, Turkey, Bangladesh, and Iraq, and the reported establishment of an Islamic State province in the Philippines, it will have to pay special attention to this new threat to peace in our land.