MANILA/DAVAO CITY: Philippine security forces said on Tuesday they had killed a Daesh spokesperson and “money man” in the southern province of Maguindanao.
The Western Mindanao Command, which oversees military operations in the country’s south, identified the suspect as Abdulfatah Omar Alimuden, alias Abu Huzaifah, a Philippine national and member of Dawlah Islamiyah, a militant organization that pledged allegiance to the Daesh in 2015.
Maj. Andrew Linao, spokesperson of the Western Mindanao Command, told Arab News that Alimuden was killed in an operation in Datu Saudi Ampatuan municipality on Monday.
“The neutralization of the personality is a big blow to the organization,” Linao said, adding that Alimuden was a “spokesperson of ISIS (Daesh)” and “finance officer of the Dawlah Islamiyah Philippines conduit to ISIS (Daesh) central.”
Linao added that the suspected finance officer will no longer be able to “extort or generate more funds to buy bomb materials, improvised explosive devices, which would wreak havoc on the Filipino people, especially here in central Mindanao.”
Col. Christopher Panapan, provincial police commander, said Alimuden died of multiple gunshot wounds after his vehicle was intercepted by security forces on a highway.
“Minutes after we arrived at the scene, we rushed him to the nearest hospital, but he was declared dead by doctors,” Panapan said, but did not confirm the suspect’s role or position within the militant group.
“He was reportedly holding a key position in the ISIS-EA (Daesh-East Asia) group,” he added. “We are digging more information about his role in their organization.”
Dawlah Islamiyah, also known as the Maute group, was one the organizations that along with another Daesh affiliate, the Abu Sayyaf, took control of the city of Marawi in the southern Philippines in 2017.
After five months of fighting and widespread destruction, the Philippine army reclaimed the city, killing the main leadership of both groups.
But following the battle, attacks increased in the country and Daesh became a major cause of concern.
In 2018, the US Department of State designated Daesh-Philippines on its list of foreign terrorist organizations amid concerns that the group, which originated in the Middle East, was expanding its operations in Southeast Asia.
At the same time, the Philippine military stepped up its crackdown on Daesh affiliates in the country.
The latest operation comes a week after a series of bomb attacks in Koronadal, South Cotabato province and Tacurong in Sultan Kudarat province, which the military has blamed on Dawlah Islamiyah.
Ramon Beleno III, head of the department of political science at Ateneo De Davao University in Davao City, told Arab News that the killing of the suspected Daesh finance chief “will result in difficulties for their group in seeking financial support.”
But it may also lead to a rise in attacks.
“They might retaliate,” Beleno said. “It’s like a house of ants. Once you ruin it, they will strike back.”