The Armed Forces of the Philippines said on Thursday that Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Abdul Hir, alias Marwan, was dead and vowed to capture him ‘sooner or later.’
In 2012, the military jubilantly declared that Marwan had been killed other most wanted Al-Qaeda-linked militants in a US-backed air raid staged by security forces in Parang, Sulu.
Also said to be slain in the airstrike were Abu Sayyaf leader Gumbahali Jumdail alias Dr. Abu, Muhammad Ali Bin Abd Al-Rahman alias Mauwiyah, and 12 other terrorists.
AFP Public Affairs Office chief Lieutenant Colonel Ramon Zagala, however, refuted this. “We never said he was killed in that airstrike, it was never validated. The only way to validate is if there is a body or DNA evidence, which there was none,” Zagala was quoted in an Inquirer report.
But Zagala declined to answer whether the other two top militants were also alive.
Abu Sayyaf leader Khair Mundos admitted during an interrogation that he met with the JI leader in Maguindanao last year. The Associated Press obtained a copy of said statement.
Zagala said that they are operations are ongoing to track down and capture Marwan and his supporters.
“We consider Marwan as a fugitive on the run and slowly we will get him,” Zagala said. “We will catch him sooner or later,” he added.
Marwan is a Malaysian bomb expert said to be the overall head of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) in the Philippines.
He has been charged of multiple murder, multiple frustrated murder, and multiple attempted murder.
In 2007, the US has put up a $5-million bounty for his capture, making him one of the United States’ most-wanted terrorists.
AFP intelligence chief Major General Eduardo Año said there were “consistent reports” Marwan was in the Cotabato area.
He said Marwan was believed to be in contact with the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).