An Army spokesman has revealed the identity of the so-called Islamic State’s new leader in Southeast Asia.
Major Ronald Suscano said Maute Group sub-leader Abu Dhar had been chosen to replace Isnilon Hapilon as the region’s ‘emir’. Hapilon was killed during the siege of Marawi last year.
Suscano made the revelation following the arrest in Manila of Maute Group sub-leader Abdul Nasser Lomondot at the weekend.
“The one who is acting as, we all know Isnilon Hapilon already died, so the one who is acting as emir or and who replaced him is Abu Dhar,” he said.
“Actually, he is a Maranao [from Marawi]. His parents are from Lanao del Sur, both of them. He is a full-blooded Maranao and I think he grew up in Lanao del Sur, he studied there, he got married there, etc.”
Major Suscano also said that after fighting broke out in Marawi last May, Dhar was able to slip out of the city carrying a substantial amount of money.
“Based on the information I gathered he was the one holding the money, he was the one who brought the money out. There were lots of money that they managed to sneak out of Marawi City. He was the one who had the money that’s why they have lots of funds,” he said.
Based on a blurred photograph, it is believed that Dhar is in his forties.
“Abu Dar’s age is unknown but if you will look at his picture he is in his 40s,” he said.
Major Suscano added that intelligence reports suggested that Dhar was hiding out in Pagawayan, Lanao del Sur.
“It’s where he is reported to be staying because it is said to be his birthplace or it is where his relatives are,” he said.
Major Suscaano also said that aside from Dhar, there were nine other sub-leaders among the 313 remnants of the Maute Group.
“They scattered into small groups. Most of them are hiding, but some of those who remain in Lanao del Sur have regrouped and are retraining. Ten subleaders remain,” he said.