MANILA - (UPDATE) After the killing of local terrorists Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute, government troops are now chasing Dr. Mahmud Ahmad, a Malaysian terrorist who could still be hiding in a building in the remaining battle areas in Marawi, an official said.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana they have received reports that Mahmud bin Ahmad is still inside one of the buildings in the battle area.
"There is still another personality that they are trying to get. Si Dr. Mahmud, the Malaysian. That's what they are trying to do now," said Lorenzana.
Mahmud was among the foreigners spotted fighting alongside local armed men who waved Islamic State's black flags as they tried to occupy Marawi in May.
A former university professor, Mahmud was believed to be the financier of the assault in Marawi and also reportedly the one who organized ISIS cells in Malaysia that were sent to Mindanao.
Mahmud is suspected of channeling roughly P30 million from the Islamic State group to acquire firearms, food and other supplies for the Marawi siege, according to Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence, and Terrorism chairman Rommel Banlaoi.
Mahmud, who also went by the name Abu Hanadzalah, was one of five men sought by the Malaysian police for their alleged ties to terrorist organisations, said Banlaoi.
Lorenzana, meanwhile, said they may be announcing the cessation of hostilities in Marawi this week. A possible lifting of martial law in Mindanao will be discussed with President Rodrigo Duterte.