Misquoted; no such report
Two Inquirer articles, published on Oct. 2 and Oct. 3, misquoted me and my organization, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), about Islamic State (IS) fighters returning to Mindanao and IS-linked fighters getting captured in South Cotabato.
Both articles report that CSIS, and I in particular, issued a report stating that there are “more [IS] fighters in Southeast Asia, particularly in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao than in Afghanistan and Iraq during the height of wars led by the United States there.”
The most recent article by Jeoffrey Maitem even said that I wrote a “340-page
assessment released this month” to that effect. I can assure you I never wrote any such report, and neither has anyone else at CSIS.
Both stories are citing a Washington Times article from Sunday in which the author misunderstood something I told him. The author of that original article has promised to correct it.
To be clear, there are definitely not more IS-linked fighters in Southeast Asia, or the southern Philippines, than there were or still are in the Middle East.
What I told the Washington Times was that there are currently more Southeast Asians, including some Filipinos, fighting in Syria and Iraq than there were fighting with the Mujahideen in Afghanistan in the 1980s.
Those fighters from Afghanistan returned to Southeast Asia and helped establish terrorist networks like Jemaah Islamiyah, so we should be very concerned about what the larger numbers of returning fighters this time will do once they get home.
GREGORY POLING, Director, Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, Fellow, Southeast Asia Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies
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