AFP chief: Malaysian terrorist financier killed in Marawi clashes
MANILA - At least 89 "suspected foreign terrorist fighters" are in different areas in Mindanao, including Marawi City, according to a Philippine National Police (PNP) intelligence report.
The undated intelligence report obtained by Kyodo News said among the suspected foreign terrorists are 28 Indonesians, 26 Pakistanis, 21 Malaysians, four Arabs, three Bangladeshis, one "Indian-Singaporean", and one Singaporean.
The other five are of yet-to-be-determined nationalities.
According to Kyodo News, the same figures were reported by the Philippine government Thursday during a meeting in Manila of the foreign ministers and defense and police officials of the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia.
The report said three identified entry points are used by foreign militants to slip inside the Philippines.
One of these is from the northern part of Indonesia's Sulawesi island to the port city of Tahuna on Sangir Besar, the largest of that country's Sangihe Islands, and from there to the Philippine province of Sarangani in Mindanao.
The other two routes are from the Malaysian town of Sandakan in Borneo to the Philippine island-province of Tawi-Tawi and from there to Zamboanga in Mindanao, and from the Malaysian town of Sandakan, also in Borneo, to the Philippine island-province of Palawan.
"Islamic militants from Indonesia, Malaysia and other Southeast Asian states are being lured to go to the Philippines to join the jihad and be part of the wilayat (governorate)," the report said.
The police intelligence report said around 250 to 300 militants belonging to the Islamic State-inspired Maute group remain in Marawi City, among whom are believed to be dozens of foreign fighters.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), however, said in a press conference Friday that only around 90 to 100 Maute terrorists are still left fighting in the city.
Authorities have reported 280 militants killed so far in the fighting in the city, as well as 69 government troops and 26 civilians.
Año: Islamic State terrorists losing in Mosul
AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Año in a press briefing Thursday, also cited the presence of suspected foreign terrorists in the southern Philippines amid the now month-long attack of the Maute gunmen in Marawi City.
Año said foreign militants have been trying to come into the Philippines and authorities are guarding against this.
"Kaya nga 'yun 'yung binabantayan natin, dahil sa Mosul ngayon maganda rin yung effort ng allied forces doon. In fact, they are forecasting in 6 months matalo nila yung ISIS doon. We expect na 'yung mga ma-displace doon pupunta ng Asia and because of the Marawi uprising, parang magnet itong Pilipinas so 'yun babantayan natin," he said.
Año said that of the 40 suspected foreign terrorists that the AFP has monitored in the country, around 20 were from Indonesia, about 6 are Malaysians, and the rest are of other nationalities.
Año said some of the suspected foreign terrorists have already been killed. He added that Philippine, Malaysian, and Indonesian authorities have been sharing information and intelligence against terrorism.
"Normally kasi, Malaysians and Indonesian ang mga nare-recruit ng ISIS because gusto nila ng isang ISIS base dito sa Southeast Asia kaya malaking factor yan," Año said.
He said Malaysian terrorist Mahmud Bin Ahmad, who helped lead and finance the Marawi assault, was wounded in the clashes and died June 7.
The AFP chief added that Mahmud is suspected of funneling at least P30 million from the Islamic State terror group to get firearms, food, as well as other supplies for the assault.
At least eight foreign terrorists have been killed in Marawi City even as residents reported seeing "foreign-looking" fighters joining gunfights against state forces, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said earlier this month.
Lorenzana said the military has so far identified 2 Malaysians, 2 Saudis, 2 Indonesians, a Yemeni, and a Chechen as among those killed in the Marawi siege. - with reports from Ron Gagalac and Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News; Kyodo News