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As part of our story on the ISIS connection to the Times Square bombing plot, Canadian photographer David Maurice Smith spent time in the Philippines with writer Saul Elbein. They traveled with the Filipino military to Marawi City in the Southern Philippines, a city devastated by fierce fighting with Muslim rebel groups. A siege that had begun in May 2017 and claimed more than 1,000 lives had quieted by the time of their visit in December 2017. Still, Marawi City remained mostly empty, dangerous, and largely uninhabitable.
In the process of investigating whether the Philippines was becoming a new base for ISIS, Smith and Elbein documented the messy aftermath of every modern war: refugees displaced by the fighting, injured soldiers, mass graves, and the arduous process of clearing improvised explosive devices (IEDs), unexploded bombs, and rubble.