Fiction More than Fact Behind ISIS Lines in Marawi

first published on April 5, 2019 by

An Islamic State propaganda film from behind the lines in the doomed city of Marawi has surfaced. However, these depictions may be a bit further from reality then the Islamic State would like to admit.

ISIS Militants staged an unprecedented attack and seized the city of Marawi in May of 2017. They quickly declared an Asian Caliphate loyal to the Islamic State, and were bolstered by numerous foreign fighters from Indonesia and Malaysia. The resulting battle for Marawi has been continuing for over two months, leaving the city devastated and roughly 350 thousand people displaced by the fighting. The Philippine military has been slowly and methodically clearing the city of fighter’s; neighborhood by neighborhood, and house by house.

This video, recently released by an ISIS media wing “Amaq News”, shows a small number of fighters harassing Philippine forces in the tightly packed and increasingly demolished streets. These fighters likely represent what the Philippine Military has claimed to be the last few dozen fighters in their final pockets of resistance. While the video of course depicts IS militants confidently fighting, it is thankfully devoid of maddening rhythmic jihadist music and excessive “Allah akbar’s”. What the video conveniently doesn’t show, is that these remaining fighters are surrounded and the so-called Asian caliphate in Marawi is near collapse. The Philippine military has slowly but effectively rooted out resistance in the laborious urban terrain and Marawi will likely be liberated within the next few weeks.

The growing concern in the region is that escaping fighters from the failed Marawi campaign will head home to Indonesia and Malaysia, emboldened and united under the Islamic State banner. This new-found unity and collaboration amongst former rival groups throughout Asia has the potential to increase terrorist networks, supply lines, and operations like never before. Unfortunately, it appears that the liberation of Marawi is not the end of the Islamic State in Asia, but only the beginning.