Filipino ISIS ‘Not a Rag-Tag Group of Rebels’

By Michael Kugelman

Michael Kugelman is the senior associate for South and Southeast Asia at the Woodrow Wilson Center. His main specialty is Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan and U.S. relations with each of them. Mr. Kugelman writes monthly columns for Foreign Policy's South Asia Channel and monthly commentaries for War on the Rocks. He also contributes regular pieces to the Wall Street Journal's Think Tank blog. He has also produced a number of longer publications on South Asia, including the edited volumes Pakistan's Interminable Energy Crisis: Is There Any Way Out?, Pakistan's Runaway Urbanization: What Can Be Done?, and India's Contemporary Security Challenges. Mr. Kugelman received his M.A. in law and diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University. He received his B.A. from American University's School of International Service.

After months of battling ISIS-linked militants in the Philippine city of Marawi, Philippine forces are on the cusp of wrestling control of the last ISIS holdouts away from the militant group. However, while the fight for Marawi may be reaching its conclusion, conditions across southeast Asia appear ripe for an increase in the number of extremist groups operating across the region. The Cipher Brief’s Bennett Seftel sat down with Michael Kugelman, senior associate for South and Southeast Asia at the Woodrow Wilson Center, to discuss how the Philippines is working to contain ISIS in the southern Island of Mindanao as well as the growing threat of extremism in southeast Asia.

TCB: The battle between ISIS and Philippine forces in Mindanao is now into its fourth month. What is the current status of the battle? Could Philippine forces regain complete control of the Island in the near future? 

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