Malacañang said the death of Islamic State (IS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was “good news” for countries terrorized by the group but noted that the government should not let its guard down.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said that despite the IS leader’s death, the terrorist group still has members around the globe that could wreak havoc at any moment.
“That’s good news for countries that have been terrorized by the ISIS. But then again the leader of one group does not mean the extinction of that band of terrorists and we know that for a fact,” Panelo said in a Palace briefing on Monday.
Panelo acknowledged the possibility that al-Baghdadi’s death could discourage the terrorist group members from committing more atrocities.
However, he assured the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) would be on high alert to foil possible attempts by terrorist groups attempting to ride on al-Baghdadi’s death.
“It may also cause discouragement on the part of the terrorist groups. But as far as we’re concerned, whether the leader dies or not, we will secure that part of our country from them,” Panelo said.
Asked if al-Baghdadi’s death would have an impact on the recruitment of IS members in Mindanao, Panelo said: “Hindi ko mabasa yung magiging response ng mga nire-recruit nila (I cannot surmise what the response of those being recruited will be) if it will affect them or not.”
Mindanao has been under martial law since May 23, 2017, the same day Islamic State-linked Maute terror group laid siege to Marawi City in Lanao del Sur province.
Like Panelo, AFP spokesperson, Marine Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said the IS leader’s death will not necessarily mean the demise of the terrorist organizations.
“His death will definitely impact on local terrorist groups but not to the point of its demise,” Arevalo said.
On Sunday (US time), US President Donald Trump announced that al-Baghdadi had been killed in a US military operation in northwest Syria.
Trump said US Special Operations Forces conducted a raid Saturday night targeting al-Baghdadi, during which he killed himself by igniting a suicide vest. (PNA)