Evacuees from war-torn Marawi City get purified drinking water from a fire truck parked along the road in Balo-i town, Lanao del Norte yesterday. Image obtained by STAR/John Unson

FBI confirms Hapilon’s death through DNA test
Michael Punongbayan (The Philippine Star) - October 21, 2017 - 4:00pm

MANILA, Philippines — The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has confirmed the death of Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon through DNA tests.

“We have received an official report that the US FBI has confirmed that the DNA sample taken from a body recovered by our operating units in Marawi matches that of Isnilon Hapilon,” Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana announced yesterday.

“This process of verification is also being conducted on the cadavers of the other terrorists that have been recovered so far,” he added.

Lorenzana said the FBI sent representatives shortly after the government announced the killing of Hapilon and Omarkhayam Maute, the key leaders of the Maute group that laid siege to Marawi City.

Hapilon was on the FBI’s “Most Wanted Terrorist” list. The US Department of State’s Rewards for Justice Program offered a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to the conviction or apprehension of Hapilon, who was considered “armed and dangerous.”

Hapilon headed the notorious Abu Sayyaf and was designated emir of the Islamic State (IS) in Southeast Asia to establish a caliphate in southern Philippines with the help of the Maute group.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Eduardo Año said the DNA result is required in claiming the reward offered by the US government.

Forensic examination results showed Hapilon and Maute were killed during a gunbattle with government troops last Monday, acting on information provided by hostages who escaped during the gunfight.

Officials said the government is now ready to look into the backgrounds of the civilian tipsters who led authorities to the killing of the terror leaders.

Days after Hapilon and Maute were killed, the government announced the killing of Malaysian terrorist Mahmud bin Ahmad, though the military has yet to locate his body to confirm his death.

Winding up

The military has started the pullout of troops in Marawi City after the key leaders the Maute group were taken out of play.

At the same time, some military units pressed their assault against the remaining militants with artillery and gunfire while clearing the buildings in the main battle area of booby traps and unexploded bombs.

The battle for Marawi that has raged for five months has claimed more than 1,000 lives and thousands displaced and homeless.

Officials assured the battle is going down to the stretch.

“We hope to finish it by today (yesterday). There are at least 10 remaining Maute terrorists still battling it out there,” Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Maj. Gen. Restituto Padilla said.

Western Mindanao Command Chief Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez, the senior military commander overseeing the Marawi offensive, said the troops are poised to finish off the remaining terrorists hemmed into a shrinking battle zone.

Galvez assured no one among the terrorists would be left alive by the troops in the last phase of the offensive.

“Hopefully, we have headway anytime today (yesterday) and we overrun the three buildings,” he said.

Troops are hunting Malaysian terrorist Amin Baco and the sons of Hapilon who were believed to be among the remaining gunmen inside the battle area.

Baco was said to have succeeded Mahmud for the leadership of the Maute group after his compatriot was killed last Thursday. Galvez confirmed Mahmud was killed, citing accounts from former hostages and other sources.

Galvez said the troops were given the mission to kill all the remaining terrorists.

He made the assurance to assuage fears of the Marawi residents of possible retaliation by the remaining terrorists on the returning civilians.

“In order to remove that fear we need to neutralize them all,” Galvez said.

“The instruction of the President is to neutralize all the terrorists so that justice will be served,” he added.

Malacañang also assured the military would continue its offensive until the last terrorist in Marawi is driven out.

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said the start of the military pullout in Marawi does not signal the end of the fighting.

“While enemy force has greatly diminished, we will continue to be alert and assure the residents of the city that we will not compromise its security with the presence of some units of the Armed Forces,” Abella said.

Where credit is due

A day after Hapilon and Maute were killed, President Duterte visited Marawi and announced its liberation, sparking hopes that hundreds of thousands of residents could begin returning home.

Volunteers and displaced residents began a cleanup in neighborhoods that were declared safe. Power has been restored in more than half of the city, along with water supply, officials said.

Military operations have cost P5 billion and the government estimates it could cost 10 times that much to rebuild Marawi.

Australia, the United States, Singapore, Russia, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank are among the countries and organizations that have offered to help.

The US government, along with Australia, has provided close support in the war against the Maute by deploying drones and technical support to the frontlines.

The patrol boats used by the AFP to prevent the possible escape of the terrorists to Lake Lanao in the city were also provided by the US government, Ambassador Sung Kim pointed out.

“Proud to see brave Filipino commandos patrolling Lake Lanao on a US-donated marine vessel,” the US ambassador said in his Twitter post.

Kim made the statement after Duterte publicly expressed gratitude to China for its support in the military offensive in Marawi.

Duterte was eager to credit China in the war in Marawi, saying it was a Chinese rifle that fired the bullet that finished off Hapilon.

“It was only China who gave it on time and plenty, plenty,” Duterte said on Thursday. “I would like to officially inform you, (Chinese) Ambassador Zhao (Jianhua), that the rifle that killed Hapilon was a sniper rifle made in China.”

Duterte is a huge fan of the Chinese rifles and took a shot himself in the direction of militants in Marawi City recently.

Addressing businessmen and diplomats last Thursday, he singled out Zhao for China’s support that led to the crucial killing.

The military has yet to confirm the President’s claim, as against a supposed account of a soldier in the frontlines that went viral online saying it was a fixed weapon mounted on top of an armored vehicle that killed Hapilon.

In the same speech, Duterte compared the supposed Chinese support to that of the US and Israel which, he said, did not give the equipment but merely allowed Filipino troops to use it.

The US embassy earlier said it is proud to support the AFP through technical assistance, including intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities.

Kim also vowed to support the recovery and rehabilitation of Marawi. – With Christina Mendez, Roel Pareño, Edith Regalado, Janvic Mateo

Philstar
Facebook
  • Latest
  • Trending
Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?
X
Login

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

SIGN IN
or sign in with
Read and share the latest news
whenever and wherever you are.
Top Stories
Features the most relevant stories,
exclusive content, analyses and special reports.
As It Happens
Get bite-sized highlights and up-to-date
information as the news breaks.
Latest
View the most recent
stories of the day.
Log-in
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet,
consectetur adipiscing elit.
Quisque justo est, auctor vel ullamcorper.
Log-in
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet,
consectetur adipiscing elit.
Quisque justo est, auctor vel ullamcorper.
How to follow As It Happens stories
STEP 1
Click the story in the As it Happens section.
How to follow As It Happens stories
STEP 2
Click "Follow Story" for updates on the news.
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Aliquam eu metus vitae felis tincidunt finibus ut id sapien. Integer volutpat dui eu malesuada dignissim. Sed varius justo nulla, fringilla convallis sem porta sed.
How to follow Author
STEP 1
Click on the author's name in the article.
How to follow Author
STEP 2
Once you click on the author's name, you will be
brought to the Authors page. Click "Follow Author"
to stay updated on the author's works
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Aliquam eu metus vitae felis tincidunt finibus ut id sapien. Integer volutpat dui eu malesuada dignissim. Sed varius justo nulla, fringilla convallis sem porta sed.
How to follow Tags
STEP 1
Click on a tag in the article.
How to follow Tags
STEP 2
When you click on a tag, it will take you to the
dedicated tag page where you'll see the article
viewed, along with other stories with that tag.

Click the "follow tag" button to stay updated on
the topic.
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Aliquam eu metus vitae felis tincidunt finibus ut id sapien. Integer volutpat dui eu malesuada dignissim. Sed varius justo nulla, fringilla convallis sem porta sed.