Friday, July 7, 2017

Malaysian IS fighter confirmed killed in southern Philippines conflict

From Today Online (Jul 6): Malaysian IS fighter confirmed killed in southern Philippines conflict

The official tally of Malaysians left fighting alongside the Islamic State (IS) group in southern Philippines has been further reduced with the confirmed death of a seasoned fighter from Sabah.

Jeknal Adil’s death was only confirmed recently, although it is understood that the 33-year-old was reportedly killed during a battle with Philippine military in Basilan last year. Jeknal assumed the nom de guerre Abu Shabah Al Muhajir when he joined the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), now an affiliate of the IS, and was the first of two Malaysians to head to the terror group’s stronghold in Basilan.

He and another wanted Malaysian from Sabah, Amin Baco, who has since gone off the radar, left the country to join ASG in 2010.

Jeknal and Amin formed part of the Khatiba Muhajrin group, which comprises fighters from Indonesia led by a former lecturer at Universiti Malaya, Mahmud Ahmad.

Bukit Aman Special Branch Counter-Terrorism Division principal assistant director Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay said intelligence indicated that Jeknal was killed during an ambush by Philippine armed forces last July.

Jeknal, who became involved in militancy at the age of 18, received military training at an Abu Sayyaf camp on Jolo island between September 2005 and March 2006.

“He was arrested on March 16, 2006, with another Indonesian militant, and was held under the now-defunct Internal Security Act at a detention centre. He completed his restriction order on May 10, 2010, and made his way to southern Philippines about six months later,” Mr Ayob said.

The New Straits Times was told that Jeknal escaped the police dragnet when he returned to Sabah to facilitate the relocation of Amin’s wife and children to Mindanao.

Sources said Jeknal chose to leave his life in Sabah as he failed to obtain a Malaysian identity card.

“Technically, although he is regarded as a Malaysian, he does not have citizenship. He was born in Sabah, but his father is a Filipino and his parents did not register his birth. Without an identity card, it will be difficult for him to get a job or get married, so he decided to leave.”

It was understood that Jeknal was part of an insurgent group that took part in several clashes with the Philippine military in Jolo, Basilan, and Mindanao in periods preceding his death. His death was narrated in detail by last month’s issue of the IS propaganda magazine Rumiyah.

Referring him as “Abu Shabah”, the report said that he was preparing breakfast for members of his camp when he heard the sound of heavy artillery headed their way. He was killed during the artillery strike.

The fate of Mahmud, who is believed to be part of the IS-linked Maute group battling the Philippine military in Marawi, is still unknown. While some reports said he was killed in the earlier days of the siege, which began on May 23, the Malaysian authorities believe he is alive.

Mahmud’s right-hand man, Malaysian bomb expert Mohd Najib Husen died in 2015 during a shoot-out with the military.

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