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Military photos of weapons and identification cards recovered by troops at the base of “Anṣār al-Khilāfah” in Sultan Kudarat's Palimbang town.

Military photos of weapons and identification cards recovered by troops at the base of “Anṣār al-Khilāfah” in Sultan Kudarat’s Palimbang town.

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COTABATO CITY – The Philippine Army has announced Friday that an Indonesian national was among 8 jihadists killed in fierce fighting with security forces in the restive southern region of Mindanao.

Captain Jo-ann Petinglay, a spokeswoman for the 6th Infantry Division, identified the slain Indonesian jihadist as Ibrahim Ali, alias Abu Fattah and Hudzaifa.

She said Ali – a senior member of the Mujahideen Indonesian Timur – was previously arrested in Zamboanga City in 2005 for gun charges, but was freed by the court in 2013 and had since joined the “Anṣār al-Khilāfah” or “Supporters of the Caliphate” headed by Mohammad Jaafar Maguid, who pledged allegiance to ISIS in August 2014.

Anṣār al-Khilāfah also released a video threatening to deploy suicide bombers in the Philippines and make the country a “graveyard” for American soldiers.US troops are deployed in the southern Philippines since 2001 and assisting the government in fighting terrorism in the restive region of Mindanao.

Maguid, who was a key member of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front which signed a peace deal with Manila in 2014, escaped the fighting in Sultan Kudarat’s Palimbang town along with over 3 dozen followers. Maguid was believed wounded in the clash.

“Ali was first arrested in Zamboanga for illegal possession of firearms in 2005, but was released from detention in 2013 due to lack of merit of the case filed against him. He had since been monitored to be with Maguid after his release, teaching bomb manufacturing among the followers of the said leader,” Petinglay said.

She said three of the dead were all Filipinos – Abdil Halil, Tatuh Sumail and Kira Sabiwang – and the others remain unidentified. She said troops and policemen tracked down the jihadists’ hideout after villagers tipped off authorities about the gunmen.

“The successful operation is a manifestation of the established good relationship of the military and police with the community, as information pertaining to the presence of the target and his supporters was volunteered by concerned citizens from the local community,” Petinglay said.

She said Major General Edmundo Pangilinan, the division commander, and Brigadier General Emmanuel Salamat, commander of the 1st Marine Brigade, and the local police commanders coordinated the operation.

She said troops were tracking down Maguid – alias Tikboy – who was arrested in 2009 in Maasin town in Sarangani province in 2009, but escaped from his cell 7 months later.

“The target of the operation Mohamad Jaafar Sabiwang Maguid has four standing warrants of arrest and is involved in a series of atrocities and violence in the South Cotabato area since August 2008.”

“He was previously apprehended in 2009 by security forces in Maasim, Sarangani pprovince but he managed to escape from Bulantay Jail in Alabel town after seven months of imprisonment. He had been a fugitive for half a decade and was involved in more lawlessness in the different areas of the region since then,” Petinglay said.

The military said troops also recovered six ISIS flags, including a .50-caliber Barrett sniper rifle, an M16 automatic rifle, a .45-caliber pistol, assorted improvised explosives, radio communication sets, identification cards and various documents with intelligence value from the encounter site.

Anṣār al-Khilāfah was formed in Homs, Syria in January 2013 to overthrow President Bashar Hafez al-Assad and declare Sharia. Aside from the local Anṣār al-Khilāfah, the Abu Sayyaf group and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in the southern Philippines also pledged allegiance to ISIS and vowed to put up a strict Islamic state in Mindanao. (Mindanao Examiner)

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