Soldiers kill 15 and wound Abu Sayyaf leader in Lanao del Sur
Manila, Philippines – Last Sunday, January 29, 2017, Military Chief of Staff General Eduardo Año announced that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) dealt a heavy blow on terrorist and bandit organizations the Abu Sayyaf Group and the Maute Group. The operations resulted in 15 terrorist casualties and a severely wounded Abu Sayyaf leader, Isnilon Hapilon.
Among the 15 confirmed kills was an Indonesian only known by his nomm de guerre, Mohisen. According to Gen. Año his operatives are still “digging and doing more investigation” on the background of said Indonesian national.
In its bid to flush out Hapilon, the AFP has been firing shells and dropping bombs over terrorist positions in the mountains of Lanao del Sur–a known stronghold of the Maute Group.
General Año said that Hapilon might die because he needed immediate medical treatment and a blood transfusion. “Without proper medical treatment, he may die”, he added.
Isnilon Hapilon, also known as Abu Abdullah, is an Abu Sayyaf extremist leader with alleged links to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The Department of Defense said that Hapilon linked up with the Maute Group in Butig with the intentions of setting up ISIS operations in the region. The local government in Lanao del Sur has yet to independently confirm these reports.
Lanao del Sur Provincial security consultant Musa Diamla said that they have not received confirmation that the Abu Sayyaf and Maute group are teaming up to establish ISIS operations.
He said: ”Wala pang nagsabi na nakita niya si ano [Hapilon], wala pang nagsabi sa tao, isang tao na, ‘oo, kasama namin.” (“No one has said that they’ve seen him (Hapilon), on one has been told, not one has said yes, he’s with us.”)
Hapilon is on the United States Department of Justice’s list of most-wanted terrorists worldwide, which lists a US$5 million bounty for his capture. Just last year, a report by the Institute for Policy Analysis and Conflict, a Jakarta-based think-tank said that Hapilon had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, it has endorsed him as “emir of Southeast Asia” and Southeast Asians in Syria have pledged loyalty to him.
The AFP has not counted the operation as a success–the body of Hapilon is yet to be found and declared dead.