Philippines hails US decision to blacklist local ISIS-linked groups

The Philippines hailed on Wednesday Washington’s decision to blacklist two local pro-Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) groups. The US State Department and the Department of Treasury designated the Maute group and the Dawlatul Islamiyah Waliyatul Masrik as “terrorist organizations” on Tuesday, blocking US-based assets belonging to them or their supporters and barring Americans from dealing with them, AFP said. The move is an “affirmation of what Philippine authorities already know – that the Maute Group and the Dawlah-Islamiya are terrorist groups,” a statement by the Defense Ministry in Manila said. They will be denied access to the US financial system and will face sanctions, making it more difficult for them to conduct their activities in the Philippines and abroad, it added. Militants from the Maute group were routed from Marawi last October after a five-month battle. It was sparked by its bid to establish an IS caliphate in the largely Catholic country’s southern Mindanao region.