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.