ASSESSMENTS

In the Philippines, the Islamic State Fights to Set the Narrative

MIN READJun 9, 2017 | 10:05 GMT

A scout ranger with the Philippine army patrols Marawi City. The siege there, which now in its third week, has earned its place in the record books as one of the largest and longest jihadist hostage situations in the modern era.

(NOEL CELIS/AFP/Getty Images)

The size and duration of the siege in Marawi City make it difficult to determine the jihadists' intentions for the attack. The Philippine government and armed forces have labeled it a hostage scenario, but the militants occupying the area seem to have a more ambitious goal in mind. Fighters from the Maute group and Abu Sayyaf brandished Islamic State flags and occupied government buildings early on in the attack in a scene reminiscent of the siege of Mosul in 2014. A week into the siege, moreover, the militants released a video in which one of the captives, a Catholic priest, referred to the civilians under their control as "prisoners of war." But while the incident is unprecedented as a hostage scenario, it is far less spectacular as a bid to claim territory. The attempt falls far short of the Islamic State's land grabs in Syria and Iraq, and it hasn't...

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