An American working as a “political consultant” in California is demanding that he be given the $5-million informant’s reward for the arrest or capture of Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan.
Marwan, included in the most wanted international terrorists’ list of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), was killed in a raid on his hideout by police commandos belonging to the Special Action Force (SAF) in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last January 25.
Marcus Allen Frishman, 56, has come forward to lay claim to the $5-million informant’s reward under the US State Department’s Rewards for Justice (RFJ) program.
A spokesman for the US State Department issued a statement last Tuesday emphasising that only individuals who have furnished information that have led to the arrest of wanted persons are entitled to rewards.
Frishman brought along copies of faxed letters, e-mail exchanges with certain US State Department functionaries and a photocopy of a document – purportedly with the letterhead of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) – as among the evidence for his claim to the Marwan reward money.
The document with MILF letterhead is a “certification” signed by a certain “Cmdr. Boy Hashim, chairman of the Military Advisory Council, MILF Central Committee.”
A reading of the “certification” would indicate that it was a safe conduct pass issued to a certain Malaysian named “Zulkifli bin Abdul” who was under the protection of the MILF.
The certification allowed the Malaysian, supposedly Marwan, to move from one MILF camp to another in Maguindanao.
At that time, the document allowed him to move from “Camp Boghdad, Eastern Matanog under MILF AOR between the Northern Mindanao Front and Eastern Mindanao Front.”
It appears from the “certification” that Marwan had presented himself as a Malaysian engaged in farming business that required him to move around frequently.
This dovetails with suspicions that Marwan had been roaming freely in Mindanao under the protection of the MILF. This was before the Aquino administration signed the Comprehensive Agreement for the Bangsamoro with the MILF in March 2013.
According to Frishman, it was through his initiative in March 2010 that the US government was able to get hold of the most solid lead to the whereabouts of Marwan at that time.
He said the MILF document was furnished to him – without him asking for it – while he was in the country for a visit in March 2010.
Frishman identified the source of the document as a certain Raymond “General” Liwag who was introduced to him by his former staff, Filipino-American Ram Castillo.
Frishman said he and Castillo worked together in the California Equalization Board until 2008. Castillo now resides in the Philippines.
He said he is willing to testify before the Philippine Congress on what he knows about the search for Marwan. He said he is convinced the MILF document he furnished the US State Department in 2010 greatly helped in tracking down the terrorist.
Asked what he intends to do with the reward money if he gets it, Frishman said he intends to share it with Castillo, Liwag and “Cmdr. Boy Hashim.”
He also expressed willingness to share part of the money with the families of the 44 slain SAF troopers.
“You cannot be greedy. There’s a lot to go around,” he said.
Frishman claims to operate his own MAF Group of professional consultants based in California. He put up his own office in 2008 after his stint with the California Equalization Board, where he sat as deputy board member for two consecutive terms of four years each.
Frishman has been shuttling between California and the Philippines as a private citizen since 2005.
Relieved SAF chief Director Getulio Napeñas earlier testified before a Senate public hearing that SAF troopers who assaulted Marwan’s hideout killed the Malaysian terrorist bomber while trying to serve the warrant of arrest against him.
Before leaving the hut where they killed Marwan, the SAF men cut off his right index finger and took photos of his corpse because they could no longer carry his remains as guerrillas were beginning to arrive.
Napeñas told the senators the SAF assault team immediately turned over the severed finger to FBI men in Gen. Santos City for DNA testing.
Based on initial DNA laboratory tests done by the FBI, Marwan’s DNA sample taken from his finger matched that of his brother.
While the FBI has yet to give its confirmatory findings on Marwan’s DNA test, debates have started over who should get the reward money.