|Christl Leong |||Sep 26, 2014 08:05 AM EDT|
The Abu Sayyaf, a Philippine militant group, has threatened to execute a German hostage unless Berlin pulls out from the U.S.-led air strikes against the Islamic State, in a move that underscores the growing influence of the Islamic State, also known as Daesh, in Southeast Asia.
Abu Sayyaf took to Twitter to issue an ultimatum to the German government.
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The formerly-al-Qaeda-affiliated group said it would kill one of its two German hostages on Oct. 10, unless Berlin complies with its demands.
Abu Sayaff demanded a payment of a US$6.5 million ransom and in addition, demanded Berlin to pull its support from the U.S.-led coalition against the ISIL launched this week.
Germany said the foreign ministry was working on the situation, but issued a statement declaring that the group's threats would not influence the country's foreign policy.
Germany's foreign ministry said this could compromise the region's security.
In Southeast Asia alone, more than 100 Muslims from Malaysia, Indonesia and the southern Philippines have joined the fighting in the Middle East.
But analysts estimate thousands of Asians in their home countries have pledged allegiance to ISIL and are capitalizing on the group's brand that is driven by gruesome videos and calls for jihad through social media.
Speaking at a Pentagon news conference on Thursday, U.S. Armed Forces Pacific Command (USPACOM) chief Adm. Samuel Locklear said some 1,000 civilians from India to the Pacific are believed to have travelled to Syria and Iraq to join the ISIL but did not specify percentage estimates on recruit nationalities.
"That number could get larger as we go forward," he added.
USPACOM's area of responsibility covers more than half of the world's surface area including Australia, China and India.
Meanwhile, the USPACOM said it was working with Asian partners to deal with the ISIL threat.
Rather than re-deploy U.S. combat forces, Washington is consulting with regional allies on how best to stop ISIL recruitment, Locklear said.
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