DATU SALIBO, Philippines — The leader of the Islamic State in the Philippines, Isnilon Hapilon, is dead. The city his forces seized, Marawi, on the island of Mindanao, is all but completely back in government hands after months of scorched-earth combat.
But the Islamic State’s influence in the Philippines is far from over, and communities on Mindanao are bracing for the next battles.
“I don’t like to fight. But this is our land and we will not let them take this like they destroyed Marawi,” said a veteran Christian militia fighter who goes by the nom de guerre Commander Ilangilang. (She named herself after the tree blossoms that bloom densely around her hometown.)
She says it is only a matter of time before the Islamic State’s black flag flutters in the mountainous periphery on the outskirts of Kauran, the farming community where she grew up and where she talked to Times journalists recently, about 90 miles south of Marawi.