Four Islamic militant groups in the Philippines have reportedly formed together to create a satellite of the Islamic State in Southeast Asia, pledging allegiance to caliphate in the Middle East.
A video reportedly released from the southern Philippines island of Mindanao shows a number of former rival Islamic terror leaders pledging allegiance to the Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
The video had been circulating on Islamist forums on the dark web since January 4 but has since been removed, Rappler.com reports.
The new, self-declared ISIS province is situated in the south of the country, which has long been a hotbed to Islamic separatists along the Malaysian border.
Reports that agents from the Middle East were heading to the region have circulated for more than a year but they were dismissed as not credible due to the protracted armed conflict.
Terror groups in the Philippines have been flying the same "black flag" used by ISIS for at least four years, according to Rappler.com, and claimed to have ties to ISIS for some time.
However, the Filipino military has downplayed links to the terror group in the Middle East.
"They’re not really ISIS," Philippines military spokesman Colonel Restituto Padilla told reporters in December.
"We view them as mere criminal gangs."
National security adviser Cesar Garcia said: "ISIS has no training camps in the Philippines."
Terror expert Rohan Gunaratna told Rappler.com the the combined terror groups would create far greater problem for the Philippines government than the separate groups.
"The ISIS-initiated merger of the fighting formations and unifications of the leaders will present an unprecedented challenge to the Manila government," he said.
"ISIS is likely to create a safe haven in Basilan and mount operations from the Sulu archipelago into both the Philippines and Malaysia."
News break – January 11