A new video released by ISIS shows a small band of jihadists desecrating religious icons in a Catholic church in the Philippine city of Marawi. Black-clad figures armed with machine guns are seen destroying each sacred statue, toppling a cross, and ripping up photos of Pope Francis and Pope Benedict XVI in a scene that looks eerily similar to what’s been happening in America in regards to Confederate memorials and statues. (Just an observation.)
Philippine officials were convinced that they would recapture the city within weeks after pro-ISIS militants swept through Marawi City on May 23. But since then, the lakeside Philippine city that once had a population of 250,000 has been reduced to a battle zone. And with more than 700 people — including hundreds of terrorists and state troopers — now dead, Marawi has literally become a ghost town.
It all began with a few dozen local Islamists pledging allegiance to ISIS in the predominantly Roman Catholic Philippines. Now, the people who used to live in the once-bustling city of Marawi have moved to evacuation centers and scattered tents.
You can see a clip of the video, called “Inside the Khilafah,” below. The film boasts how jihadists freed inmates from a jail, attacked local churches, and called Marawi “a reward for holding firmly to the rope of Allah.”
Narrated by an English-speaking male with an American accent who has narrated other videos for ISIS’ Al-Hayat Media Center, the video explains that the occupation took root in Marawi because the Philippine government tried to “subjugate the Muslims” and “expel them from the land.” Like ISIS recruitment and operations in their greatly-diminished home-base caliphate of Iraq and Syria, the video also shows child soldiers fighting with the jihadists.
ISIS re-ups raw footage first released in June, showing jihadists rampaging through a church before eventually setting fire to the parish.
“After all their efforts, it would be the religion of the cross that would be broken,” the narrator states. “The crusaders’ enmity toward the Muslims only served to embolden a generation of youth.”
One of the jihadists, vowing, “We will make more revenge,” holds aloft a photo of Pope Francis. “We will be in Rome, inshallah,” he says repeatedly, before pointing his gun at the pontiff’s picture.
The narrator says that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who hails from the same area now besieged by militants, “ran to his masters, the defenders of the cross, America, along with their regional guard dog, Australia, and begged them for help, and despite having been previously insulted by Duterte, they were quick to put their differences aside. America is continuing to be drawn into the lands of the Muslims all over the globe to be weakened and to bleed to death at the hands of the believers.”
The video shows a map of “America’s War on Islam:” Iraq, Syria, Sinai, West Africa, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan, and the Philippines.
The video calls Marawi the “land of hijrah and jihad” and even promotes the natural beauty of the locale as ISIS shifts its focus from Iraq and Syria to drawing jihadists to other areas that it calls provinces.
Philippines Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has predicted that ISIS could be driven out of the area in the next month or so after first predicting back in May that they would be gone within a week.
“The armed forces did not want to accept the fact that the southern Philippines would one day be part of this ISIS movement,” he admitted.
Approximately 360,000 residents have been displaced by the ISIS occupation and fighting.
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