Joseph Franco

Indigenous Roots of the “First” Filipino Suicide Bombing

The Interpreter


On 28 June, two suicide bombers carried out an attack in the Philippines, targeting the headquarters of 1st Brigade Combat Team (BCT) in Indanan, Sulu. Days later, one of the suicide attackers was identified as Norman Lasuca, a 23 year old resident of Jolo, now considered the first Filipino to be involved in a suicide attack against Philippine security forces. Pundits have quickly claimed that the Indanan bombing was a clear example of the increasing radicalization of Filipinos by ISIS-linked ideologies. Yet such analysis is not supported by any recent overtures by ISIS to increase their foothold in Southeast Asia. The so-called East Asia Wilayah was ignored in recent ISIS dispatches. A wilayah in Mindanao likewise remains aspirational. What is overlooked is the potential role played by indigenous beliefs and cultural practices. Lasuca’s suicide attack may be a rediscovery of the 19th century practice of “parang sabil” rather than the adoption of 21st century ISIS propaganda.