The Islamic State’s Amaq News Agency released a short video showing the destruction of a church inside Marawi city. This is the second video released by Amaq from the southern Philippines city. The video comes as the crisis in Marawi enters its second week. At least 175 people have been killed in the siege so far, while thousands of civilians have been forced to flee the city.
The video details Islamic State-loyal fighters destroying religious symbols and vandalizing the inside of the church. Afterwards, the jihadists set the structure on fire before the video ends. It is unclear when the footage was filmed, however, destruction of churches inside Marawi have been reported since the attack started late last month.
Last week, Gen. Eduardo Ano, the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, told the Associated Press that foreign fighters are buttressing the local jihadists’ ranks. According to the AP, “three Malaysians, an Indonesian and possibly Arab extremists have been killed” in the fighting. At least one Chechen fighter has also been reported killed.
Philippines Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has also said that the jihadists inside Marawi numbered around 400 and that four Islamic State-loyal groups are present inside the city. Lorenzana told news outlets that Isnilon Hapilon, a US-designated global terrorist and former head of the al Qaeda-affiliated Abu Sayyaf Group, brought along 50-100 fighters with him to join 250-300 militants of the Maute Group, which is also called the Islamic State in Lanao. The Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and Ansar al Khilafa Philippines have each contributed 40 fighters, as well.
The siege began on May 23 when the extremists, who have sworn allegiance to the Islamic State, infiltrated Marawi. The jihadists quickly began fighting local security forces, capturing buildings, and setting up checkpoints.
According to Filipino sources, the jihadists inside Marawi are led by Isnilon Hapilon, who has been appointed as the overall leader of Islamic State’s forces in the Philippines. [See Threat Matrix report, Islamic State-loyal forces battle Filipino troops inside provincial capital.]
Images previously released by the Islamic State from Marawi showed gunmen patrolling the streets, holding checkpoints, and planting their notorious black banner. In addition, the so-called caliphate has released several attack claims on behalf of the militants, including a statement concerning a prison assault and other clashes. Another video was released last week detailing the assaults. [See FDD’s Long War Journal report, Islamic State loyalists continue takeover in southern Philippines and Threat Matrix report, Islamic State releases video from the fighting in Marawi.]
Screenshots from the video: