COTABATO CITY – Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said local ISIS fighters have received funding from the Middle East and use this to finance their violent activities in the restive southern region of Mindanao.
He said the fund went directly to Isnilon Hapilon, chieftain of the Abu Sayyaf and leader of the ISIS group in the country. Hapilon and members of the Maute group comprise the local ISIS with other allied jihadist movements.
Lorenzana did not say whether the funding came from the Islamic State or other militant groups or from individuals.
“They have a lot of money to spend around, they are buying royalties,” Lorenzana said. “How could a Yakan Ispilon bring his troops Yakan to a Maranao area, a contrary or a whatever, there is only one reason there, he has a lot of money to distribute and buy these.”
Lorenzana was referring to an ethnic tribe in Basilan province where Hapilon belongs. Marawi is largely a Maranao tribe. He also said that security forces had killed at least 120 militants, including foreigners – two from Saudi Arabia, two from Malaysia, two from Indonesia, a Yemeni and another from Chechnya – in Marawi where ISIS fighters occupied the city on May 23.
He said the foreign militants sneaked through the southern Philippines. (Rhoderick Beñez)
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