Terrorists Using Covid-19 Crisis in the Philippines to Recruit Members
It is no secret that ISIS has been expanding in the Philippines for quite a while. The pandemic has affected many people with unemployment, but it has been an ally for terrorist recruiters. Counter terrorism efforts have not been enough to stop the expansion in the country.
Since 2017, the U.S. has supported the Armed Forces of the Philippines in fighting terrorism through Operation Pacific Eagle-Philippines. Unfortunately, the strength and influence of extremist groups in the region remains at high levels. Despite the pandemic, terrorist threats worldwide continue unabated. Governments have stopped economies, businesses are going bankrupt and people unemployed, yet terrorists do not pause their activities. In fact, international terrorist groups are taking advantage of the pandemic to make propaganda, recruit and plan violent attacks. Sadly, the Philippines is one of the countries most affected by the pandemic, the recession it is causing, and the expansion of terrorism. While world leaders are concerned about the pandemic, ISIS is trying to resurge.
Investigators in the Philippines have witnessed how the risks have risen exponentially in the past few months. With less jobs and less opportunities comes more online crime, more romance fraud, more risk in general. But the most preoccupying of all is the terrorist threat.
In 2017, the Southern Philippine city of Marawi was sieged by ISIS militants, taking advantage that this was the only Muslim major city in the country, and has a strategic location. Currently, the extremist group is leveraging the Covid-19 crisis and the quarantine measures to rally young (naïve, poor, unemployed and desperate) Filipinos to their terror cause. Apparently, it is easier to propagate the idea of violent extremism in depressed rural areas that have been heavily affected by lockdowns.
The recession caused by the pandemic has been bad for everyone, but not equally bad. The Philippines has struggled for long with corruption, fraud, poverty and many other problems. Therefore, the wounds caused by Covid-19 can be deeper.
A word of advice from private investigators
If you have an online relationship with a Filipino, whether it is personal or business, make sure you know for sure who you are dealing with. A thorough background check investigation in the Philippines can provide evidence to understand who this person is, their identity and any ties to unlawful activities. Sometimes a local investigation and surveillance will be required to better understand the subject’s whereabouts and how this can affect your relationship. In all cases, knowing the truth is extremely important. Having ties with terrorist group members can put your life upside down, and it can endanger your own safety. Make sure you really know who you date, and with whom you conduct business in the Philippines. If you’ve met someone online, or if you are considering doing business with someone from the Philippines, get clear evidence and then make your decision.
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