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Looted Marawi cash, gold helps ISIS recruit fresh fighters

MARAWI: Islamist insurgents looted cash, gold and jewellery when they occupied Marawi last year, valuables that one of their leaders has used to recruit 250 fighters.

The military said Humam Abdul Najib escaped from the southern Philippines town before it was recaptured by the military in October.

Since then, he has used the booty looted from bank vaults, jewellery shops and homes in Marawi to win over young men in the province of Lanao del Sur, military officers in the area said.

Parents are reportedly offered as much as 70,000 pesos (S$1,810) plus a monthly pay of as much as 30,000 pesos to hand over their sons to the group.

Hardened mercenaries are also joining. As a result, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria followers remain a potent threat, the officers added.

"They have not abandoned their intent to create a caliphate in South-east Asia," said Colonel Romeo Brawner. On Saturday, militants wounded eight soldiers in two attacks.

As to how much was taken by the militants, Col Brawner said: "We heard about 2 billion pesos but that is just an estimate." - REUTERS

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