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Abu Sayyaf Video with Western Hostages
by Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi • Oct 15, 2015 at 4:55 pm
A new video featuring a Filipino, two Canadians and a Norwegian being held hostage by the Philippines jihadist group Abu Sayyaf has emerged. Kidnappings are a familiar tactic of Abu Sayyaf but in particular I would highlight the flag in the video.
Besides mimicking the Islamic State design, the flag also reads at the bottom: "Soldiers of the Caliphate in the Philippines." This is a recurring moniker for groups that have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State but have not been officially accepted to become Islamic State 'provinces' (wilayats). For comparison, Tanzim Ansar al-Tawheed, an Indian jihadist group, pledged allegiance in October 2014 but has not become 'India Province', so instead has called itself the 'Soldiers of the Caliphate in India'. In the case of Abu Sayyaf, a senior leader for the group- Isnilon Hapilon- pledged allegiance to the Islamic State all the way back in summer 2014.
Why have these two groups in India and the Philippines not been declared Islamic State provinces- indeed, pretty much ignored by the Islamic State- considering how keen the Islamic State is to emphasize expansion at home and abroad? It is likely because these groups are too small and operating in areas that are too large, such that they cannot seriously merit acceptance as Islamic State provinces. In other areas, calculations to declare provinces depend on viability to imitate the Islamic State state governance model (Libya) and the prospect of directly undermining al-Qa'ida (Algeria, picking off Al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb affiliates to become part of 'Algeria Province'). In Gaza, the pro-Islamic State groups are too small, localized and divided to be accepted as official affiliates.
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