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Terror strikes home

“Law enforcers are referencing the 2019 attack on the Jolo Cathedral in the latest incident.

Foreign terrorists took credit for the gruesome attack inside Mindanao State University, or MSU, during a Catholic Mass that killed four and injured several others.

While Filipinos have been keenly following developments in Israel’s war against the Hamas terror group, wanting to be apprised of the fate of the two Filipino hostages, there is a feeling of viewing from afar.

Sunday’s tragedy made clear to Filipinos that terrorism can happen anywhere.

The attack was carried out in a university gymnasium in Marawi, the lone Muslim city in the country which Islamist militants besieged for five months in 2017.

The Islamic State, or IS, terror group, which uses tactics usually compared to Hamas, said on Telegram its members had detonated the bomb.

Before IS’ claim, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. condemned “the senseless and most heinous acts perpetrated by foreign terrorists” and ordered the police and the military placed on heightened alert.

Ripples of the attack resonated throughout the apprehensive world shaken by the assault on Israel.

In Rome, Pope Francis offered prayers for the victims during his Sunday address and, in a separate written message, appealed to “Christ the Prince of Peace (to) grant to all the strength to turn from violence and overcome every evil with good.”

Law enforcers are referencing the 2019 attack on the Jolo Cathedral in the latest incident.

In that terrorist incursion, on 27 January 2019, an Indonesian husband and wife, affiliated with the Jamaah Ansharut Daulah, or JAD, bombed the cathedral on Jolo island, killing 23 and wounding 100.

Security experts said the evolving terrorist trend taps foreign nationals and women for suicide bombing missions since attempts using male terrorists had limited success.

Militant leaders in the region had previously called for the greater participation of women in attacks after male fighters began to decline in numbers and groups faced recruitment challenges.

The probability of the success of attacks involving females is higher as women are less likely to be suspected and detected as terrorists, according to a security expert.

Based on the previous incidents, most of the suicide bombings were undertaken by members of the faction of the Abu Sayyaf Group, or ASG, led by Hajan Sawadjaan. The ASG is aligned with IS.

Since the 2019 Jolo Cathedral attack, Sawadjaan has gained notoriety and was mooted to be the emir of IS in the Philippines.

No other local group has attempted suicide bombings.

Suicide bombings used to be confined to Jolo island despite Sawadjaan’s influence across the Sulu archipelago.

Suicide bombers in Sulu have only conducted attacks on military targets — apart from the Jolo Cathedral attack.

Security analysts said this indicates some strategic significance in the deployment of such tactics as bombing incidents showed heavy reliance on foreign militants.

Apart from Sawadjaan’s group, other militant factions in central Mindanao embrace IS’ wider agenda of establishing a “caliphate” in Southeast Asia.

If left unchecked, the attacks will likely inspire more suicide bombings in the region and beyond, especially involving women as the IS sympathizers attempt to increase global awareness of the “East Asia Wilayah” or the caliphate that it seeks to establish.

The recent tactics, including those involving women, could attract the attention of international terrorist groups and networks as foreign fighters set their eyes on the region in a bid to boost the terror network’s operational capabilities.

The country can learn a lot from Israel in countering the increasing incidents of suicide bombings as the Jewish nation emphasizes vigilance through the participation of its citizens.

Nothing beats a nation working together in the face of evil being emboldened by the weakening resolve of the civilized world that the terrorists seek to destroy.

Credit belongs to: tribune.net.ph

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