MANILA - Amin Baco, a terrorist trained by fellow Malaysian Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan, is the new leader of the Islamic State in Southeast Asia, the Philippine National Police said Monday.
"Siya ngayon ang nag-assume sa position ni Isnilon Hapilon as the emir of ISIS-Southeast Asia," PNP chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa told reporters at Camp Crame.
Deputy Director General Fernando Mendez Jr. said IS affiliates elected Baco as emir after Hapilon was killed by state troops in Marawi.
He said the information came from Indonesian terrorist Mohammad Ilham Syahputra, who was arrested in Marawi last week.
Mendez described Baco alias Jihad as "one of the longest-staying foreign fighters" in the Philippines.
"He was with Marwan for a long-time. Isa siya sa pinaka-experienced na foreign terrorist fighters in the Philippines," he added.
Baco was also targeted by Special Action Force commandos who stormed Mamasapano, Maguindanao in January 2015. Forty-four SAF commandos were killed in the operation.
Like Marwan, Baco was described as a member of the Jemaah Islamiyah, an expert IED (improvised explosive device) maker and wanted by the government and the United States for various bombings and kidnappings. He has been linked to kidnapping incidents in Sabah, Malaysia.
Dela Rosa said Baco was far from Marwan's hideout when the latter was killed in the January 2015 operation.
Syahputra meanwhile was presented to media on Monday. He has admitted to operating drones for Baco during an earlier attack in Piagapo, Lanao del Sur, said Dela Rosa.