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.

MH17 crash probe set to name suspects

A pro-Russian separatist stands at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, near the village of Hrabove (Grabovo) in Donetsk region, Ukraine, July 18, 2014. (REUTERS)
Updated 24 min 22 sec ago

MH17 crash probe set to name suspects

  • Since 2014, some 13,000 people have been killed in the war in the east, which erupted after a popular uprising ousted Ukraine’s pro-Kremlin president and Russia annexed Crimea

THE HAGUE: International investigators are on Wednesday expected to announce charges against several suspects in the shooting down of flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine five years ago in an attack which killed all 298 people on board.
The Dutch-led probe has said it will first inform families, and then hold a press conference to unveil “developments in the criminal investigation” into the downing of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777.
The breakthrough comes nearly a year after the investigators said that the BUK missile which hit the plane had originated from a Russian military brigade based in the southwestern city of Kursk.
The airliner traveling between Amsterdam and Kuala Lumpur was torn apart in mid-air on July 17, 2014 over territory in eastern Ukraine held by pro-Russian separatists.
Ukraine’s deputy foreign minister Olena Zerkal told Interfax-Ukraine news agency on Tuesday that four people would be named over MH17, including senior Russian army officers.
“The names will be announced. Charges will be brought, Zerkal said, adding that a Dutch court would then “start working to consider this case.”
Zerkal added that the transfer of weapons like the BUK anti-aircraft missile system “is impossible without the (Russian) top brass’s permission” and said others would have been involved beyond those being charged.

The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) probing the attack — which includes Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine — has declined to confirm that it will announce charges.
The Netherlands and Australia said last May that they formally “hold Russia responsible” for the disaster, after the findings on the origin of the missile were announced. Of the passengers who died, 196 were Dutch and 38 were Australian.
Moscow has vehemently denied all involvement.
Dutch broadcaster RTL, quoting anonymous sources, said the suspects could be tried in absentia as Russia does not extradite its nationals for prosecution.
“I expect there will be important new information. That means the inquiry is advancing,” Piet Ploeg, president of a Dutch victims’ association who lost three family members on MH17, was quoted as saying by broadcaster NOS on Friday.
“It’s the first step to a trial.”
Investigative website Bellingcat said separately it will also name “individuals linked to the downing of MH17” on Wednesday. It said its reporting was “totally independent and separate from the JIT’s investigation.”

The JIT said last year that MH17 was shot down by a BUK missile from the 53rd anti-aircraft brigade based in Kursk, but that they were still searching for suspects.
They showed videos and animation of the BUK launcher as part of a Russian military convoy, using video clips found on social media and then checked against Google Maps, as it traveled from Kursk to eastern Ukraine.
Investigators said they had also identified a ‘fingerprint’ of seven identifying features that were unique to the BUK including a military number on the launcher.
Russia insisted last year that the missile was fired by Kiev’s forces, adding that it was sent to Ukraine in the Soviet era and had not been returned to Russia.
The Netherlands said it would study the information but added that details previously provided by Russia — such as the alleged presence of a Ukrainian jet near the airliner on radar images — were incorrect.
Ties between Moscow and The Hague were further strained last year when the Dutch expelled four alleged Russian spies for trying to hack into the Dutch-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
The war in eastern Ukraine and the MH17 disaster continue to plague relations between Russia and the West.
Since 2014, some 13,000 people have been killed in the war in the east, which erupted after a popular uprising ousted Ukraine’s pro-Kremlin president and Russia annexed Crimea.
Kiev and its Western backers accuse Russia of funnelling troops and arms to back the separatists. Moscow has denied the claims despite evidence to the contrary.