VERA FILES FACT CHECK: FAKE ‘Isnilon Hapilon’ clip inviting people to join ISIS resurfaces

A fake two-year-old post claiming to show former Abu Sayyaf Group leader Isnilon Hapilon inciting hate against non-Muslims is making the rounds online.

The video of the Islamic militant, killed by the military in October 2017, is being re-shared on social media as the country marked the third anniversary of the Marawi siege on May 23.

The three-and-a-half-minute video, first published in June 2017 by Facebook page Trending in Philippines, featured a clip of a speaking man bearing arms. It bore the label “Abu Sayyaf Leader Isnilon Hapilon may mensahe (has a message)–must watch” in the top and bottom portion of the video, and an inset of President Rodrigo Duterte.

It was not Hapilon, the supposed Southeast Asia chief of the terrorist Islamic State (IS), shown in the video. It was Filipino national Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) leader Muhammed Reza Lahaman Kiram. ISIL is a term also used to refer to ISIS.

Trending in Philippines’ blurry clip came from a 20-minute June 2016 video called “the Solid Structure,” produced by ISIL’s supposed “media office” in the Philippines. It featured Kiram telling people–in a mix of Filipino and Arabic–to “unite and join under the command of the emir of the soldiers of the caliphate in the Philippines,” referring to Hapilon as the “emir.”

Netizens have been commenting and re-sharing the video, with some expressing dissent. “I am a Maranao Muslim, don’t drag me into your brutishness… you’re crazy!” wrote one man. The video has received over 9,000 reactions, over 3,200 comments and has been shared over 39,000 times. Trending in Philippines was created in April 2015.

Hapilon was among those behind the 2017 Marawi siege, which compelled Duterte to place Mindanao under martial law. He was killed by government troops in October that year, ending the five-month battle between the military and the terrorists in the Islamic city. Kiram was labeled a “global terrorist” by the United States in August 2018.

The false video, which continues to be shared at least once a week, is resurfacing close to the second anniversary of the Marawi siege on May 23.

Trending in Philippines was created in April 2015.

(Editor’s Note: VERA Files has partnered with Facebook to fight the spread of disinformation. Find out more about this partnership and our methodology.)