By Jose Katigbak
WASHINGTON – The longer militants linked to the Islamic State (IS) prevent Philippine security forces from liberating besieged Marawi City in Mindanao, the better their chances of attracting more foreign and local fighters and financial support, an expert on terrorism has told US legislators.
Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Transnational Threats Project director Thomas Sanderson said that as the Abu Sayyaf group and the Maute coalition hold on in Marawi, the IS could come to see this as a primary, extra-regional destination as its fortunes tumble in the Middle East and North Africa.
Sanderson told a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee hearing on Wednesday that the battle for Marawi, now in its eighth week, has become the focal point of IS activity in Southeast Asia.
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