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MANILA/DAVAO CITY: Philippine security forces announced on Tuesday that they had killed an ISIS spokesman and “money man” in the southern province of Maguindanao.

The Western Mindanao Command, which oversees military operations in the south of the country, identified the suspect as Abdulfatah Omar Alimuden, alias Abu Huzaifah, a Filipino national and member of Dawlah Islamiyah, a militant organization that has pledged allegiance to Daesh in 2015.

Major Andrew Linao, spokesman for Western Mindanao Command, told Arab News that Alimuden was killed on Monday during an operation in Datu Saudi Ampatuan municipality.

“The neutralization of the personality is a blow to the organization,” Linao said, adding that Alimuden was a “spokesperson for the Islamic State (Daesh)” and “a finance official for the Dawlah Islamiyah Philippines channel. towards the central Islamic State (Daesh).

Linao added that the alleged financial official will no longer be able to “extort or generate more funds to purchase bomb material, improvised explosive devices, which would wreak havoc on the Filipino people, especially here in central Mindanao.”

Colonel Christopher Panapan, provincial police commander, said Alimuden died of multiple gunshot wounds after his vehicle was stopped by security forces on a highway.

“A few minutes after we arrived at the scene, we rushed him to the nearest hospital, but he was pronounced dead by the doctors,” Panapan said, but did not confirm the role or the position of the suspect within the militant group.

“He would have held a key position in the ISIS-EA (Daesh-East Asia) group,” he added. “We are seeking more information on his role in their organization.”

Dawlah Islamiyah, also known as the Maute Group, was one of the organizations that, along with another Daesh affiliate, Abu Sayyaf, took over the city of Marawi in the southern Philippines in 2017.

After five months of widespread fighting and destruction, the Philippine army retook the city, killing the top leaders of both groups.

But following the battle, attacks have increased in the country and Daesh has become a major source of concern.

In 2018, the US State Department added Daesh-Philippines to its list of foreign terrorist organizations, fearing that the group, which originated in the Middle East, could expand its operations in Southeast Asia.

At the same time, the Philippine military has stepped up its crackdown on Daesh affiliates in the country.

The latest operation comes a week after a series of bombings in Koronadal, South Cotabato province and Tacurong in Sultan Kudarat province, which the military blamed on Dawlah Islamiyah.

Ramon Beleno III, head of the political science department at Ateneo De Davao University in Davao City, told Arab News that the murder of the suspected Daesh finance chief “will cause difficulties for their group to seek financial support”.

But it can also lead to an increase in attacks.

“They might hit back,” Beleno said. “It’s like an ant house. Once you ruin it, they will retaliate.


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