Australian troops training Filipino forces to combat ISIS threat
Australian troops deployed to the Philippines say the threat of ISIS is now on Australia’s doorstep, as the terror group moves closer to home.
More than 100 Australian troops from the army, air force and navy are currently based in the southern Philippines, training local forces in combat techniques they learnt on the ground in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Their mission - known officially as Operation Augury - is not only to equip Filipino forces with new battle techniques, but to also help safeguard Australia’s own regional security.
“We just need to be ready and make sure we can counter it,” Group Captain John Young tells 60 Minutes reporter Liam Bartlett.
“It may not be in Australia, but this part of the world is in our backyard… they’re our neighbours.”
This Sunday, 60 Minutes is the first television program to be given access to the mission - with exclusive access to the drills and scenarios Aussie troops are using to prepare local forces in combat against ISIS and other local extremist groups.
Highly-skilled at fighting in the dense jungle, the Philippines military were caught off guard when ISIS forced them to the streets of the major urban city of Marawi.
ISIS seized Marawi City in the southern Philippines in May 2017 and claimed it as their East-Asia headquarters.
Marawi was once home to more than 200,000 people.
Now, it is a ghost town. Homes and shopfronts have been bombed out, with all the cities infrastructure in ruins.
Though the siege ended in November 2017, the streets are still too dangerous for locals to return home with hundreds of unexploded bombs hidden in the rubble.
The Marawi city siege was the second time in five years that Islamic extremism brought mass bloodshed to the southern Philippines.
But the destruction and devastation is a reminder that ISIS is not a far-off threat for Australia - Marawi city is just three-hours flight time from Darwin.
60 Minutes reporter Liam Bartlett confronts the threat of the Islamic State head-on, in an astonishing interview with radicalised Islamic State recruits.
Initially lured to extremism by the promise of a wage and better life, the young ISIS recruits sitting across from the 60 Minutes cameras now believe the sickening ideology of those who recruited them.
In a shocking interview, 24-year-old Filipino ‘Sadam’ says he joined ISIS three years ago – and tells 60 Minutes he is ready to fight for Islamic State – both at home in the Philippines or across international waters.
“We’re just doing what God told us to do,” Sadam says.