MANILA (UPDATE) – President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday claimed that the Mamasapano mission on January 25, 2015 aimed at neutralizing Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan was led by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States.
Duterte said the US led the operation to get Marwan, noting that it was the Americans who supposedly processed the Malaysian terrorist’s finger.
He scored the administration of his predecessor, Benigno Aquino III, for not telling the truth about the mission, which led to the deaths of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) troopers.
“And why was it under wraps? Bakit niyo tinago na (Why did you hide the fact that) actually it was an operation of the CIA?” Duterte said in a speech in Malacañang, where he met with widows and other relatives of the slain elite cops.
“Kaya far from the highway, nandoon ang chopper and you had to delude the nation that after the Marwan finger was cut, it was delivered dito sa Crame [police headquarters] for the forensics, when as a matter of fact, ang helicopter, ang nagdala doon sa just for validation, to confirm that it was indeed Marwan.”
(That's why far from the highway, your chopper was there and you had to delude the nation that after the Marwan finger was cut, it was delivered here in Crame for the forensics, when as a matter of fact, your helicopter was the one that brought it just for validation, to confirm that it was indeed Marwan.)
Marwan was killed in the January 2015 operation, but at the expense of the SAF troopers who clashed with private armed groups, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), and even the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which at the time was in peace negotiations with the government.
Pressed for time and in the middle of a battlefield, SAF troopers had no choice but to cut off Marwan’s finger so they would be able to prove the terrorist’s death.
A DNA sample taken from Marwan matched that of Marwan's brother who is in Guantanamo Bay.
The US Federal Bureau of Investigation reportedly conducted the DNA test.
A Philippine Senate report into the raid concluded the United States played a "substantial" role by providing training, equipment and intelligence to the Filipino forces.
However, it did not refer to the CIA.
Responding to the Senate report in 2015, a US government official told AFP at the time: "This operation was planned and executed by Philippine authorities. We refer you to them for details of the operation."
Spokesmen for the US embassy in Manila and Aquino did not immediately reply to requests for reaction to Duterte's latest comments. - with AFP