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Under the black flag

Even as its caliphate dwindles away in Iraq and Syria, ISIS appears equipped for a long struggle in the Philippines and possibly elsewhere in Southeast Asia.

In September 2012, the Philippine police discovered a black flag in the Abu Sayyaf camp of Khair Mundos. By May 2017, Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) appeared to be gaining a foothold in the southern Philippines.

It is now July and the Battle for Mosul in Iraq might have ended and the ISIS "caliphate" in the Middle East is close to elimination, but the terrorist group is still holding on for dear life in Marawi. Its menacing presence, coupled with the escalation of the existing insurgency, have forced President Rodrigo Duterte to impose martial law on Mindanao Island since May 23.

The decision marked the first use of martial law in the Philippines since former president Ferdinand Marcos instituted it nationwide in 1972, and it does not look like it will be lifted anytime soon. International experts continue to warn that more ISIS fighters could leave the Middle East and regroup in Mindanao, which is home to a large Muslim population.

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