DNA test confirms death of senior Daesh leader in Philippines

List of most wanted terrorists in the Philippines released by the Philippine National Police in in 2017 in this file picture. Police on Saturday confirmed that Owaydah Marohombsar Abu Dar (second from left ), a senior leader of Daesh in the Philippines, is dead.
Updated 13 April 2019

DNA test confirms death of senior Daesh leader in Philippines

  • Abu Dar was on the country's most-wanted list
  • Daesh losing ground in Philippines, says military

MANILA: A senior leader of Daesh in the Philippines is dead after DNA tests confirmed his identity, a military official said Saturday.

Owaydah Marohombsar, also known as Abu Dar, was on the country’s most-wanted list for his role in the 2017 siege of Marawi.

He was one of those who plotted the siege, which would go on to become the longest urban battle in the modern history of the Philippines.

More than 1,000 lives were lost and hundreds of thousands of residents were displaced as a result of heavy combat lasting five months. The city was left in ruins.

“Abu Dar is confirmed dead. The DNA test results from the US showed positive results,” Col. Romeo Brawner, commander of the Army’s 103rd Brigade based in Marawi City told Arab News.

Abu Dar slipped out of Marawi during the height of the crisis and went on to lead the group Daulah Islamiyah Lanao, which later became the focus of military operations.

Last month the military said it believed that one of the bodies retrieved from a clash between soldiers and militants in Tubaran town, Lanao Del Sur, was that of Abu Dar. Former fighters identified Abu Dar’s body from physical features, such as a scar on his cheek.

DNA samples were also taken to confirm his identity. The Philippine military received the results of the DNA test from the US, confirming that it was Abu Dar who was killed in the March operation.

Brawner said Daesh was losing ground in Southeast Asia, particularly in the Philippines.

“We are seeing now the decline of Daesh influence in the region. They attempted to establish a ‘wilayat’ (rule) in the Philippines but they did not succeed at all here.”

He described Abu Dar as “really brutal,” adding: “He teaches the extreme kind of Islam ... like all infidels should be killed. He is really into violent extremism.”

Dr. Rohan Gunaratna, head of the Singapore-based International Center for Political Violence and Terrorism Research, said confirmation of Abu Dar’s death was a blow to Daesh.

“Daulah Islamiyah (Islamic State) Lanao led by Abu Dar was one of the four Daesh groups operating in Mindanao. The strategy of the Philippines is to contain, isolate and eliminate the four IS-centric groups that threaten the Philippines,” he told Arab News.

Sri Lanka’s president orders execution of 4 drug convicts

Updated 26 June 2019

Sri Lanka’s president orders execution of 4 drug convicts

  • The executions if carried out will end a 43-year moratorium on capital punishment
  • President Maithripala Sirisena says narcotic drugs have become a serious menace across the country with 300,000 addicts

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka: Sri Lanka’s president said on Wednesday that he has ordered the executions of four drug offenders who will be hanged in prison soon, amid alarm over drug-related crimes in this Indian Ocean island nation.
The executions if carried out will end a 43-year moratorium on capital punishment.
President Maithripala Sirisena told a media discussion on Wednesday that he has signed the death warrants including the days of the executions and sent them to prison authorities.
He said narcotic drugs have become a serious menace across the country with 300,000 addicts. According to Sirisena, 60 percent of 24,000 inmates have been jailed for drug-related offenses. Sri Lanka prisons are built to accommodate 11,000 people.
Sri Lanka last executed a prisoner in 1976. Currently, 1,299 prisoners are on death row, including 48 convicted of drug offenses.
Prison authorities are now in the process of recruiting two hangmen after two others quit without executing anyone.
At present, 26 people have been shortlisted for a two-day training, said Bandula Jayasinghe, an official at the Justice and Prison Reforms Ministry.
Drug trafficking is a capital offense in Sri Lanka, which authorities believe is used by peddlers as a transit hub.
Rights groups and foreign governments including the EU have previously criticized Sirisena’s suggestions to revive the death penalty, saying there is no perfect criminal justice system and the risk of executing an innocent person can never be eliminated.
Sirisena, who visited the Philippines in January, praised President Rodrigo Duterte’s crackdown on illegal drugs as “an example to the world.” Thousands of suspects, mostly urban poor, have been slain since Duterte took office in 2016. Rights groups have denounced what they say are extrajudicial killings. Police say most of the suspects were killed in encounters with officers.
Sri Lanka is predominantly Buddhist, a religion that advocates non-violence. Sirisena has previously said the country has had positive influences from all religions but tough law enforcement is necessary to curb crime and maintain order.
In April, police publicly destroyed 770 kilograms (1,695 pounds) of drugs seized in 2016 and 2017. Police have seized 731 kilograms (1,608 pounds) of heroin, 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of cocaine and 1,607 kilograms (3,535 pounds) of marijuana so far this year.
Marijuana is the most widely used illegal drug in Sri Lanka, followed by heroin and cocaine. Drug-related arrests rose 2 percent in 2017 from the previous year to 81,156.