Manila: Southern Philippines-based Daesh affiliates, including the Maute Group, have been labelled “Specially Designated Global Terrorist” (SDGTs) by the US Department of State.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, in a statement issued on Wednesday, hailed the designation by the US state department of the Philippine branch of Daesh as a positive development in the campaign against terrorism.
The US State Department Bureau of Counter Terrorism inclusion made on February 27 issued no particular mention of the Maute Group per se, but references are said to be of the Lanao del Sur clan-led organisation that seized and held the city of Marawi for five months.
The Maute Group, led by radical brothers Abdullah and Omahkhayyam Maute, captured key government positions in Marawi City with assistance from Isnilon Hapilon, a senior leader of the Basilan-based Abu Sayyaf.
The uprising aimed to establish a radical Islamist caliphate in Southern Philippines and hoped to draw the support of foreign terror organisations. The uprising in Marawi City was joined in by Malaysian, Indonesians as well as radicals from other countries.
Five months into the adventure by the extremists, its leaders were killed by Philippine forces deployed to quell the uprising. Among those who died were the Maute brothers and Hapilon.
“This reaffirms our long-held belief that the Maute Group is composed of local terrorists aided by foreign extremists. This likewise recognises the decisive action we have taken in liberating Marawi from these terrorists, which resulted in the success of the government in thwarting the establishment of an Islamic caliphate in the area and the containing of the rebellion from spreading to other parts of the Philippines,” Roque said.
He said that terrorism knows no borders and the inclusion of the Maute Group in the list of Specially Designated Global Terrorist and Foreign Terrorist Organizations as an affiliate group of Daesh “shows the solidarity and resolve of the international community to flush out evil forces to make the world safe and secure.”
The Marawi City conflict has caused much suffering for its residents. At least four dozen civilians died in the fighting, while a large number of people affected remain housed in makeshift shelters inside the city and in neighbouring Iligan City.
According to the US Bureau of Counterterrorism, being marked as SDGT means that it would be unlawful for groups or individuals to provide “material support or resources” to Daesh Philippines.
Likewise, money or property controlled by Daesh Philippines and its affiliated group can be confiscated by the US government.
“Any US financial institution that becomes aware that it has possession of or control over funds in which a designated FTO or its agent has an interest, must retain possession of or control over the funds and report the funds to the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the US Department of the Treasury,” the US Bureau of Counterterrorism said.