(The Philippine Star) | Updated August 8, 2014 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - The military assured the public yesterday that it will capture Malaysian terrorist and Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) leader Zulkifli bin Abdul Hir alias Marwan.
Efforts are underway to track down Marwan and his supporters, said Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala.
“We consider Marwan as a fugitive on the run and slowly we will get to him. We will catch him sooner or later,” Zagala said in an interview yesterday.
In 2012, the military reported that 15 terrorists, including three most wanted al-Qaeda-linked militants, were killed in an air strike by security forces in Parang town in Sulu.
Officials claimed among those slain were Abu Sayyaf leader Gumbahali Jumdail alias Dr. Abu, Muhammad Ali Bin Abd Al-Rahman alias Mauwiyah, and Marwan.
The claim that Marwan was killed in the air strike was refuted by captured Abu Sayyaf leader Khair Mundos, who admitted during an interrogation that he met with the JI leader in Maguindanao last year.
Marwan has been charged of multiple murder, multiple frustrated murder and multiple attempted murder.
The US put up a $5-million bounty for Marwan’s capture while the Philippines offered P7.4 million.
AFP Intelligence Service chief Maj. Gen. Eduardo Año earlier said there have been consistent reports about Marwan’s presence in Cotabato area.
“We assume that he is still alive and we are still doing intensified, focused intelligence operations against the remaining JI (members) in our country,” Año said.
He said there are about 10 to 12 JI members operating in the country, with Marwan as the “most prominent.”
Año said they have received reports that Marwan’s group is talking with the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, a breakaway group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front that opposes the peace talks.
“As far as we are concerned, there is a big possibility that Marwan is still alive. There are sources claiming that they have met Marwan and there was no evidence showing he was killed during the military offensive two years ago,” Año said.