Marawi soldiers hunt Malaysian seen to take ISIS leadership in SEA

Darryl Esguerra
PUBLISHED October 18, 2017 11:15 am
Photo taken from

(Inside Manila) The government forces on Tuesday, October 17 said it was hunting down a Malaysian professor poised to be the next ISIS leader in Southeast Asia after the killing of the two Marawi siege leaders.

ISIS’ Emir in Southeast Asia, Isnilon Hapilon, and Omar Maute—leader of the ISIS-inspired Maute group—were killed on Monday morning in a surgical operation carried out by soldiers in the besieged Marawi City.

Intelligence officials describe Malaysian Mahmud Ahmad as a financier and recruiter, who helped put together the coalition of pro-Islamic State fighters that laid siege in Marawi last May 23.

Terrorism expert Ahmad Kumar Ramakrishna from Singapore's S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, in a report from Agence France-Presse, said that if Mahmud survived he would likely take over the leadership of IS-linked fighters in the Philippines.

Authorities said they were still searching for Mahmud.

“Based on our information, there is still one personality, Dr. Mahmud of Malaysia, and he is still in the main battle area with some Indonesians and Malaysians,” Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff General Eduardo Año said.

“But their attitude is now different, they are no longer as aggressive as before,” he added.

Military officials said Mahmud was among the remaining militants, including up to eight foreign fighters, left in Marawi and are still holding about 20 hostages.

The 39-year-old Mahmud—who holds a doctorate in religious studies and was a university lecturer in Kuala Lumpur—was Hapilon's second-in-command in ISIS' wilayat or province, according to a July report by Indonesia-based Institute of Policy Analysis and Conflict (IPAC).

He was put on Malaysia’s most-wanted list in April 2014 after joining Abu Sayyaf group, an extremist group led by Hapilon and notorious for violent kidnappings and beheadings.

Hapilon is the supposed Emir of the province the ISIS is looking to establish here Southeast Asia.

Hapilon and the Mautes pledged allegiance to ISIS.

ISIS—also known as Daesh, ISIL or simply Islamic State—is a Jihadist militant group from Iraq and Syria that aims to establish a global caliphate.



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