MANILA (Updated) -- Malaysian terrorist Amin Baco is the new emir of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the Southeast Asia, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Ronald Dela Rosa said on Monday, November 6.
He said the information was revealed by Muhammad Ilham Syahputra, the arrested Indonesian terrorist who took part in the war in Marawi City.
"We have received reports na ‘yung remaining doon sa grupo na si Amin Baco na nag assume as the new emir,” he said during the presentation of Syahputra in Camp Crame Quezon City.
Dela Rosa quoting Syahputra said Baco took over the position from slain Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon as ISIS emir in the Southeast Asia.
But Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on Monday that they are still verifying the information revealed by Syahputra.
"We are still looking for Amin Baco. Yes we heard the news that he could be the successor of Isnilon as the emir of those terrorists but since they are splintered, they are scattered, we are still running after them and if we catch him it is better," the Defense chief said.
Lorenzana said Baco is not as high-profile as Hapilon but he may be chosen as the new emir because they can no longer find someone higher than him.
“I think he can no longer mass that number of troops that Isnilon can bring to Marawi, about close to a thousand fighters fully equipped and fully armed and fully supplied with ammunition,” he said.
Hapilon took the lead when over 2,000 Maute members attacked and occupied Marawi City for nearly five months.
Dela Rosa said based on intelligence information there were at least 30 Maute stragglers, including two Indonesians, who remains in the Marawi and are still trying to make their way out of the war zone.
He said they are also verifying the reports that Baco has already exited Marawi.
Deputy Director General Fernando Mendez Jr., PNP Directorate for Operations chief, said Baco is one of the longest staying terrorists in the country who has links with Zulkifli Bin Hir, the subject of the botched Mamasapano operation that led to the killing of 44 Special Action Force commandos.
Syaputra was arrested by joint police and military operatives on November 1 in Barangay Luksa Datu in Marawi City by the law enforcers and the Barangay Peacekeeping Action Team (BPAT).
Authorities said Syahputra initially introduced himself as a resident of Cagayan De Oro and an intelligence officer of the military.
Recovered from him were cash, electronic gadget, seven gold bracelets, a fragmentation grenade, one .45 caliber Caspian pistol, ammunition, and a passport belonging to an Indonesian national named Khoirul Hidayat.
Syahputra, who is considered as a high-value target was transferred to Camp Crame in Quezon City last week where he underwent proper documentation.
Dela Rosa said Syahputra revealed during the tactical interrogation that he is in charge of the drone operation for intelligence purposes of the Maute terror group.
Syaputra also said he killed his two Tausug buddies in order to escape the group. (SunStar Philippines)