How does a country suddenly end up losing an entire city? The Philippines island of Mindanao lost more than 200,000 of its citizens as extremists, declaring allegiance to ISIS, swarmed in. The place became an instant battleground.
Although the country is predominantly Catholic, Marawi, located on the island of Mindanao, is the Philippine’s biggest Muslim city. For decades different rebel groups fighting against the national government have upset this small island.
Marawi’s fall stunned both the local government and the neighboring countries. Nobody could figure out how something like this could have happened. It came as a total surprise that they would have the skills and the intention to pull this off. Eventually the origin of the attack was traced back all the way to two brothers who meticulously masterminded and executed the invasion.
Omar and Abdullah Maute come from a wealthy and influential family in Marawi. For years the young men led a local militant group that is currently allied to ISIS. There is video footage showing how the take-over was intricately planned in a secret meeting with the top commanders of the pro-ISIS coalition.
When president Rodrigo Duterte rose to power he promised peace agreements with the Muslim rebels. However, last year the president taunted Islamists who threatened to burn Marawi to the ground. Strangely enough, although the situation in Marawi is all over the local news, most people in the rest of the country don’t seem to be affected.
The people of Marawi are either fleeing or are trapped in their homes. Some Muslim civilians risk their lives every day answering their cries for help and rescuing those who are unable to escape on their own.
The Muslim community in Marawi has always felt excluded or separated and no government has been able to integrate them, so it’s not really that surprising that a group of terrorists and extremists would target the Philippines. What happens in Mindanao matters because the extremists from there end up wreaking havoc in other countries in the region. ISIS’s success in Marawi proves that their power can reach far beyond the Middle East
ABC correspondent Adam Harvey becomes one of the many wounded in a city fighting desperately for survival. He thought a rock or maybe shrapnel had hit him, but imagine his surprise when x-rays reveal he took a bullet to the neck.