Ernst questions Carter, Dunford on the rise of ISIS in Southeast Asian countries

U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) questioned two senior U.S. Department of Defense officials on Thursday about the rise of ISIS in Southeast Asian countries.

At a hearing titled “U.S. National Security Challenges and Ongoing Military Operations,” Ernst heard testimony from U.S. Department of Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford on the need for a plan to combat the rise of ISIS in the area.

“[Islamic extremist groups] are also in Southeast Asia and we are not spending much time talking about that,” Ernst said. “Groups like Abu Sayyaf – they’re now bonding together beneath the flag of ISIS. Yet, we really, like I said, don’t seem to be focusing on this. The Philippine forces lost 44 of their special police in a single battle to these terrorist groups last year. 15 soldiers were killed in a single battle just last month. It’s clear that this is a very real threat, and President Obama admitted that we have underestimated the rise of ISIS in the Middle East, and what I fear right now is that we are completely underestimating the rise of ISIS in Southeast Asia.”

Carter said that his department has spoken with defense ministers from Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and the Philippines on counterterrorism-related issues, adding that each defense minister had worries about ISIS establishing a foothold in their countries.

Alex Murtha

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