Abu Sayyaf Group leader Isnilon Hapilon [second left], the designated Islamic State Emir in Southeast Asia, meets with founding members of the Khilafah Islamiyah (Islamic caliphate) Movement leaders Humam Abdulnajid [middle]and a certain Abu Hafs [immediate right]before the May 23 Marawi Siege in Mindanao. The photo is from the Islamic State-run magazine Rumiyah’s 10th issue.
MARAWI CITY: Key Islamist extremist leaders who are leading the war against the government are alive, sources of The Manila Times said on Tuesday.
Sources identified these leaders as Abdullah Maute of the Maute group, his brothers Omar and Madie; Isnilon Hapilon of the Abu Sayyaf Group; Isnadie Ibrahim, Humam Abdulnajid of the Khilafah Islamiyah Movement (KIM), Malaysian Mahmud Ahmad, a certain Abu Yaman al-Yamani, Abu Hafs and his twin Abu Akmad.
The same sources said Abdullah was still alive as per their latest conversations with the Maute group on July 28. “They said that he [Abdullah] was not on the battleground during the time but he was expected to come back and fight,” one of the sources said.
Another reliable source said that other top leaders were also alive although some of them were previously wounded from month-long military offensives. “They were treated and had returned back to fighting,” he said.
“One of them was wounded twice when hit by bomb debris but he was fully treated outside the battle zone,” one of the sources said, adding that Abdullah was not wounded in the fighting.
The military is investigating the reported death of Abdullah, according to Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla.
“We do trust the narratives of our escapees from inside. But then we need verifiable proof before we can come out with a categorical statement,” Padilla said.