MANILA, Philippines — Malaysian militant Mahmud bin Ahmad, who financed the siege in Marawi City, is likely still in the war-torn city, the military said Tuesday.
Maj. Gen. Restituto Padilla, spokesperson of the AFP, said that Mahmud is the only remaining high-value target in Marawi following the deaths of Abu Sayaff leader Isnilon Hapilon and Maute group leader Omar Maute.
“Right now, to my understanding, he is the one that is prominently on the list and no one else,” he said.
“We are not 100 percent sure but based on the information that we have at hand, we believe that he is still in the area among the 628 foreigners,” Padilla told reporters.
Padilla said Mahmud, an academic, provided the direct linkage of Hapilon to the larger group of the Daesh or the ISIS.
The Malaysian militant reportedly provided more than $600,000 to finance the siege in Marawi City, which started last May.
“He may have allowed this to be brought in to the back doors of our country or through other channels and this is the subject of things that we still have to ascertain,” Padilla said.
President Rodrigo Duterte, meanwhile, has declared the liberation of Marawi City from terrorists.
On May 23, Duterte declared martial law and suspended the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao following an armed confrontation between government troops and the Maute group. This declaration will take effect until December 2017.
AFP chief Gen. Eduardo Año earlier said that they are still pursuing militants in the battlefield, including Indonesians and Malaysians.