Malaysia’s ‘most wanted’ killed in Marawi: Officials

Black smoke billows from destroyed buildings after an artillery fire from government troops at the remaining militant postion near the lake in Marawi. (AFP)
Updated 19 October 2017
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Malaysia’s ‘most wanted’ killed in Marawi: Officials

MANILA/JAKARTA: Malaysia’s most wanted, Mahmud Ahmad, was among 20 militants killed Wednesday and Thursday in the Philippine military’s offensive in Marawi City, military officials said.
The head of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Gen. Eduardo Ano, described the operation as “very positive.”
He added: “We were able to neutralize 13 (militants Wednesday night)... Early this (Thursday) morning, we were able to get seven more.”
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte confirmed the death of Ahmad, 39, an alleged financer of Maute militants.
The latest operation also resulted in the rescue of two civilians, a mother and daughter, who claim to have seen Ahmad among the slain terrorists, said AFP spokesman Maj. Gen. Restituto Padilla.
Ano said one of the rescued hostages revealed that Ahmad was immediately buried Wednesday night. “We’ll look for the cadaver,” said the AFP chief.
Ahmad’s reported killing comes four days after the deaths of Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute.
Hapilon was Daesh’s designated leader for Southeast Asia, and was regarded by the US as one of the world’s most dangerous terrorists.
Omar and his brother Abdullah formed the Maute group, which attacked and has held parts of Marawi City since May 23. Ahmad had been touted as Hapilon’s potential successor as Daesh’s emir in Southeast Asia.
Ahmad, who also went by the name Abu Handzalah, was a former university lecturer in Kuala Lumpur.
He was reportedly trained in an Al-Qaeda camp in Afghanistan under Osama bin Laden in the 1990s, when he was a student at the Islamic International University in Islamabad, Pakistan.
Ahmad is suspected of channeling more than 30 million Philippine pesos ($600,000) from Daesh to fund the Marawi siege.
He was believed to be hiding in a building inside the main battle zone after the deaths of Hapilon and Omar.
Padilla described Ahmad as a “very significant asset” to local militants, as he was the one providing funds and serving as a conduit to Daesh. “He was the financier and logistical enabler, but not a fighter,” Padilla told Arab News.
A report released by the Indonesia-based Institute of Policy Analysis and Conflict (IPAC) in July cited Ahmad’s crucial role in how the chain of command functioned between Syria and Marawi.
“All foreigners wanting to join the East Asia Wilayah — as the command structure in Marawi refers to itself — had to go through Dr. Ahmad,” said the report.
“He also arranged for ISIS (Daesh) funding for the Marawi operations to be laundered through Indonesia, using operatives of Jamaah Ansharud Daulah (JAD).”
Col. Romeo Brawner, deputy commander of the Joint Task Group Ranao, said they have yet to retrieve all the bodies of the slain militants. The latest enemy casualties were due mostly to sniper shots, he added.
Brawner described enemy resistance as “organized” but now limited to urban terrain less than a hectare in size.
“They’ve established their defensive positions and are using hostages as human shields,” he said.
“Sometimes they (militants) would use them as bait. They’ll tell them to run down the road, and if they get fired at, that means there are soldiers where the shots are coming from.”
More than 20 militants are still in the area, according to the rescued hostages. Padilla predicts retaliatory attacks following the deaths of their leaders.
“We’re prepared. We’re monitoring potential areas where they might launch retaliatory attacks,” he said.
He identified the areas as Maguindanao, Cotabato, parts of Lanao Del Sur, Basilan, Jolo, Sulu, Tawi Tawi in Mindanao, and major cities including Metro Manila.
Meanwhile, Indonesian security forces remain on alert to thwart a spill-over of fighters from Marawi City to the country via its outermost northern islands, which share a sea border with the Philippines.
“We always anticipate the possible infiltration of militants from Marawi,” Indonesian police Brig. Gen. Hamidin, a senior official with Indonesia’s National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT), told Arab News.
Hamidin said Ahmad established Katibah Al-Muhajir (Battalion of Migrants) in the southern Philippines, helping at least 40 Indonesians arrive there since 2016.
His men were familiar with using the island trail on the porous maritime border between the two countries, as they smuggled weapons that were used in the Jan. 14, 2016 terrorist attack in central Jakarta, Hamidin added.
The fighting in Marawi, which prompted Duterte to place Mindanao island under martial law, has left more than 1,000 dead, including 882 militants, 164 soldiers and policemen, and 47 civilians. More than 350,000 residents have been displaced.


‘No-deal’ Brexit would hit trucks, airlines and pet owners — govt papers

Updated 42 min 37 sec ago
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‘No-deal’ Brexit would hit trucks, airlines and pet owners — govt papers

  • Many business chiefs and investors fear politics could scupper an agreement
  • Without a deal, the UK would move to customs arrangements set by the WTO for external states with no preferential deals

LONDON: Leaving the European Union without a proper divorce deal could ground airlines, stop hauliers from lugging goods to the world’s biggest trading bloc and even make headaches for pet owners who want to take their dogs on holiday, according to government documents.
With just six months to go until the United Kingdom is due to leave the EU on March 29, Prime Minister Theresa May has warned that negotiations are at an impasse and that the EU must come up with new proposals on how to craft a divorce settlement.
Many business chiefs and investors fear politics could scupper an agreement, thrusting the world’s fifth largest economy into a “no-deal” Brexit that they say would spook financial markets and silt up the arteries of trade.
Britain, which has warned it could leave without a deal, published 25 technical notices on Monday covering everything from commercial road haulage and buying timber to airline regulations and taking pets abroad.
“If the UK leaves the EU in March 2019 with no agreement in place, UK and EU licensed airlines would lose the automatic right to operate air services between the UK and the EU without seeking advance permission,” the government said.
Overall, the government has published more than 65 such notices giving a glimpse of what a no-deal Brexit — the nightmare scenario for chief executives of most multinationals operating in Britain — would look like.
Amid warnings that trucks could stack up on both sides of the English Channel in the confusion of a no deal, Britain said it would seek to strike bilateral agreements with European countries to ensure hauliers would retain access.
The notices covered a vast swathe of the British economy, warning, for example, that labels on packaged food would have to be changed.
“Use of the term ‘EU’ in origin labelling would no longer be correct for food or ingredients from the UK,” the government said.
Honey producers would have to change their labels while EU countries might not accept British mineral water, the government said.
In the worse case scenario for pet owners, dogs, cats and even ferrets might need health certificates and rabies jabs. Travel plans would have to be discussed with a vet at least four months in advance before traveling to the EU.
That would mean someone wanting to take their pet to the EU on March 30, 2019, the day after Britain leaves the bloc, would have to discuss the trip with a vet before the end of November.
Without a deal, the UK would move from seamless trade with the rest of the EU to customs arrangements set by the World Trade Organization for external states with no preferential deals.
Brexiteers accept there is likely to be some short-term economic pain but say the government is trying to scare voters about the impact of a no-deal Brexit.
Britain, many Brexiteers say, will thrive in the longer term if cut loose from what they see as a doomed experiment in German-dominated unity and excessive debt-funded welfare spending.