Islamic State claims Manila casino attack blamed on botched robbery

According to government officials in the Philippines, an attack at the Resorts World Manila (RWM) casino was a robbery gone wrong. More than 30 people died as a result. But the Islamic State, whose loyalists are battling government forces in the southern city of Marawi and elsewhere, says its fighter was responsible.

The so-called caliphate issued two claims of responsibility earlier today.

The Islamic State’s Amaq News Agency posted the first on social media. Citing a “security source” in the jihadist organization, Amaq claimed that multiple “fighters executed the Manila attack.”

A separate statement issued by the organization a short while later differed, identifying the perpetrator as a single “brother” known as Abul Khayr al-Arkhabili. He stormed into “a gathering of the belligerent Christians in Resorts World Manila in the Philippines,” killing or wounding 100 people and achieving martyrdom, according to the claim.

It appears that only one gunman was responsible, making Amaq’s claim inaccurate. This was seemingly corrected in the follow-up statement.

Yet, many of the details concerning the gunman are yet to be confirmed. Hours later, authorities were still seeking to identify him. The police released the images seen above in an attempt to determine his identity.

In dismissing a terror-related motivation, officials in the Philippines have pointed to the manner in which the attack was carried out.

According to the Associated Press, Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said the attack “does not have the slightest signature of terrorism whatsoever.” The AP added: “Police told reporters the man stole more than $2 million in gambling chips and avoided shooting people he encountered in the casino, pointing his gun upward when he fired some shots.” Initial reports say he killed himself. The police also said that most of his victims died of smoke inhalation after he started fires inside the casino.

Jihadists who have sworn allegiance to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s self-declared caliphate certainly have the capability to launch such a simple attack. They are battling government forces in the southern city of Marawi and they have claimed other operations in and around Manila. In April, for instance, Amaq claimed that five Filipino soldiers were killed and six others injured in an improvised explosive device explosion in or near Manila.

Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • Thank you for all your great value adding updates. Just a word on contradictory IS claims – there is a tendency these days to read this as IS propaganda in decline, without any substantive reasoning. That there has been contradictions and even claims being deleted yes. But this begs the question: Are we seeing the IS propaganda machine in a new trajectory phase of diversification that allows for mistakes to creep in rather than a decline? To often we see mirror imaging responses on twitter seeking weaknesses at all cost – this could result in analyst not positioning the IS propaganda campaign within the IS trajectory phase beyond the luxury of an existing caliphate.

  • irebukeu says:

    …So, basically a suicide attack that killed a dozen people, sans bomb? Yep, sounds like a legit terror attack by the ‘rump’ Islamic state. Perhaps another one of those “one offs” they try to say is not connected to the Islamic state.
    This reminds me of when a helicopter is downed, be it American, Afghan, Iraqi or Pakistani, the first thing attended to is the denial of any enemy activity and the admission of mechanical problems. Add Jordanian planes to this list as well. Afghans and Pakistanis will argue the point.
    There is usually the desire and sometimes the need, to deflect the enemies successes and to hide defeats by whipping up claims (Retreats become strategic withdrawals). The price however is your veracity. You can only get away with it for so long, these days its not long, then you become Baghdad Bob and who cares what you say-You have become a joke.
    The Philippine government would be much better off, IMO, to represent the truth with the truth and be known for speaking the truth.
    In a new era of Photoshop, fake news, computer voice manipulations and now actual live video manipulations, there has never been a more pressing need for the truth.
    If someone is getting paid to tell you something-they are probably lying.
    Stay tuned.


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