Mahmud Ahmad is dead – Duterte
President Rodrigo Duterte confirmed that Malaysian Dr. Mahmud Ahmad, believed to be the financier of the Maute terrorist and tipped to become the new leader of the Islamic State in Southeast Asia, was killed on Thursday afternoon.
“Tatlo ‘yan (There were three). Hapilon, Omar, at iyong (and one) doc. I think he’s an… [Malaysian]. He was taken this afternoon. And that completes the story,” Duterte said in a speech in Manila.
A Palace source said Duterte was referring to Ahmad when he mentioned the word “doc.”
AFP spokesman Maj. General Restituto Padilla, in a text message, confirmed Ahmad was already dead.
“Yes,” he responded when asked if Ahmad was already killed by government forces.
Padilla added, “Hostages rescued know who he is and reported he was killed last night.”
A DNA test would later be conducted on the body, he added.
Pro-Islamic State gunmen occupied parts of Marawi — the main Islamic city in the predominantly Catholic Philippines — on May 23, triggering intense fighting that has killed more than 1,000 people and reduced the city center to rubble.
On Tuesday, Duterte declared Marawi “liberated from terrorists’ influence” but the military said fighting was continuing against at least 20 remaining militants.
Who was Ahmad?
Mahmud has been identified as the man to create a bastion of IS in South-East Asia under the command of Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, now deceased.
Isnilon was declared as the Emir of the IS forces in the Philippines early last year.
Dr. Mahmud led fellow militants to rescue Isnilon in the Marawi attack, said sources.
They said IS caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was desperately trying to find a new leader in the South-East Asia faction that was once headed by Muhammad Wanndy Mohamed Jedi, who was killed in a drone attack in Raqqa, Syria.
The sources said Dr. Mahmud, also known as Abu Handzalah, was the only trusted lieutenant linked to Baghdadi besides Isnilon in southern Philippines.
Direct linkage of Hapilon
Following Hapilon’s death, terrorism expert Ahmad Kumar Ramakrishna from Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies said if Mahmud survived he would likely take over the leadership of IS-linked fighters in the southern Philippines.
“He was the one responsible for the direct linkage of Hapilon to the larger group of the Daesh. It was he who provided the funding necessary to bankroll the siege of Marawi,” Padilla said on Tuesday, using another term for IS.
The Jakarta-based Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict described Mahmud as a former university lecturer who sat on the “inner circle of the Marawi command structure”.
“Mahmud controlled recruitment as well as financing and has been the contact person for any foreigner wanting to join the pro-ISIS coalition in the Philippines”, stated the July report. With reports from The Star Malaysia Online, ANN and Agence France Presse
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