THE death of Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan will not stop his followers and supporters from expanding their terror network in Mindanao, a source from the intelligence community said on Wednesday.
Marwan, who carried a $5-million bounty on his head, was reportedly killed by Special Action Force (SAF) commandos in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, on January 25.
The Manila-based intelligence source who uses the codename Pokemon on Wednesday said Marwan, a member of the Jemaah Islamiah (JI), had aligned himself with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and recruited hundreds of Muslims in Mindanao in southern Philippines to join his terror group.
ISIS is an offshoot of the al-Qaeda network of Osama Bin Laden and has been expanding its territories in Iraq and Syria in its desire to establish an Islamic State in the Middle East.
Marwan was aided by fellow JI members Indonesian Amin Baco alias Abu Jihad and Singaporean Mawiya in recruiting young Filipino Muslims to become followers of ISIS.
“The death of one doesn’t mean an end to their cause of establishing their own Pan-Islamic State in the Southeast Asian region. Somebody will come forward to take his place,” Pokemon said.
The source said Marwan’s followers are actively recruiting in Central Mindanao, the turf of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).
“Whoever will become the husband or partner of Zainab Dongon will be the next ‘amir,’” said Pokemon. Dongon is Marwan’s widow.
Sen. Loren Legarda on Tuesday said the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) should find out what happened to the hundreds of bombers trained by Marwan.
Suspended Special Action Force chief Getulio Napeñas earlier told senators that Marwan trained 300 local jihadists on bomb-making and detonation.
“No one pursued it, what happened to the 300 trained bombers of Marwan? I want to know,” Legarda said.
Meanwhile, the Board of Inquiry (BOI) that was created by the Philippine National Police to investigate the Mamasapano incident released its initial findings also on Wednesday.
The BOI chairman, Director Benjamin Magalong, chief of the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), said the BOI’s findings were based on 319 sworn statements.
Magalong added that the BOI is yet to take statements of three key personalities of the MILF’s Coordinating Committee on Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) and from the Police Regional Office of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
The BOI found out that there was a gap between the plan and the actual operation.
“The other units, with the exception of the 84th SAC (seaborne unit), did not reach their designated positions,” the report said.
Departure of the support groups, including the 55th SAC, was delayed because the plan called for the synchronization of their movements with those of the seaborne unit.
Notwithstanding the delay, the seaborne unit was able to reach its objective and neutralized Marwan,” it added.
Magalong said the BOI will visit and the area where the operation was executed.
“There will be no let-up in the inquiry. With the support of the CIDG and Internal Affairs Service, we will continue taking depositions, identifying and locating other witnesses who can provide additional information on the incident,” he added.
Magalong said the BOI doing its best to complete the probe and submit its final report on February 25.
WITH JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA