The New Zealand government is preparing itself for potential requests by countries in Southeast Asia for aid in fighting Islamic terrorists, according to Defence Minister Mark Mitchell. He said to the NZ Weekend Herald that New Zealand would contribute only the request of a host country, such as the Philippines, which lost control of Marawi city in Mindanao in May to Islamic insurgents, reportedly fighting under the Isis flag.
Mitchell said that the Philippines had big issues with securing the shipping channels, which were very active with drugs, weapons, and human trafficking. Frigate Te Kaha joined the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group in the Asia Pacific to replace the USS Fitzgerald following the latter’s collision near Japan last month. He said Te Kaha’s activities would have to be in line with New Zealand’s existing policies. “If the Nimitz was to go into an area that we wouldn’t normally patrol or it doesn’t fit in within our own policy then we would probably cut off and divert and see if there is something else they want us to do. “If we were to get a request from a partner to take up a patrol or a tasking that wasn’t inside our operational orders right now then I would take that up to Cabinet or the PM and get authority for that.”
Mitchell said that “we have seen Abu Sayyaf who have become very active down in Mindanao and took control of Mindanao and we are seeing a lot more activity from these Islamic extremist groups.”