With the deaths of Islamist State-linked terrorist leaders Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute, Doctor Mahmud Ahmad, the alleged financier of the Maute group, is being eyed as their likely successor who may also replace Hapilon as the IS Southeast Asian “emir”.
But Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the government has not received any information concerning Ahmad’s designation as the next “emir”.
“Mahmud Ahmad was only deployed by the ISIS since he was the conduit of finance but he was not designated back then as the ’emir’ [of IS]but it was Isnilon Hapilon,” Lorenzana said in an interview over Radyo Singko.
“As for now, we don’t know yet if he (Ahmad) would be the newly-installed ’emir’ [of IS]for Southeast Asia. We still have no confirmation yet but he may be, he may be the one to head their organization in the whole Asia,” he added.
The pre-dawn assault on Monday by combined elements of the Philippine Army’s Scout Rangers and Light Reaction Commands on the hideout of Hapilon and Maute resulted in their deaths and those of seven other comrades and injury to 20 soldiers.
Despite this achievement, Lorenzana maintained that there were still “cells” of the IS in some parts of Mindanao, including Jolo, Zamboanga and in Central Mindanao.
“Ever since the siege of Marawi erupted, we have been exerting efforts to counter them (IS) by tightening our security measures in different villages and to other vulnerable areas,” he said.
He also said that with the help provided by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the military was able to counter terrorist activities, particularly by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Central Mindanao. DEMPSEY REYES