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“Isis is the most complicated, evolving problem for the Philippines today, and we should not pretend that it doesn’t exist because we don’t want it to exist.” Since the January 27th cathedral bombing on the island of Jolo, the Philippine military has responded with air strikes and 10,000 soldiers in Jolo, according to Col Gerry Besana, spokesman for the regional military command in the city of Zamboanga.US surveillance drones monitor the southern Philippine archipelago, where the nation’s Muslim minority is concentrated and local insurgencies have long battled the Christian-majority state.As worshippers gathered in January for Sunday Mass at a Catholic cathedral, two bombs ripped through the church compound, killing 23 people.Islamic State, also known as Isis, claimed a pair of its suicide bombers had caused the carnage.Visiting the Jolo cathedral, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Duterte and his entourage trampled over evidence, church officials said.

But far from defeated, the movement has sprouted elsewhere.And here in the Mindanao island group of the southern Philippines, long a haven for insurgents because of dense wilderness and weak policing, Islamic State has attracted a range of militant jihadis.“Isis has a lot of power,” said Motondan Indama, a former child fighter on the island of Basilan and cousin of Furuji Indama, a militant leader who has pledged fealty to the group.Across the islands of the southern Philippines, the black flag of Islamic State is flying over what the group considers its East Asia province.Men in the jungle, two oceans away from the arid birthplace of Islamic State, are taking the terrorist brand name into new battles.

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