Malaysian jihadist takes over ISIS Southeast Asia

After the death of ISIS –Southeast Asia leader Isnilon Hapilon, a new ISIS Southeast Asia leader emerges.

Abu Sayyaf group, Malaysia
Filipino soldiers stand near the bodies of members of Abu Sayyaf group, killed during a firefight with government soldiers, after they rescued two Indonesian hostages from Islamist militant captors, in Jolo, Sulu in southern Philippines, September 7, 2017 Reuters

Police authorities have identified the successor of former ISIS-inspired leader for Southeast Asia Isnilon Hapilon, who was killed in a heavy encounter between Philippine security forces and members of the local militant group in Marawi City.

According to police authorities, Malaysia extremist Amin Baco assumed the role of the new "emir" of the ISIS franchise in Southeast Asia.

Police Chief Ronald Bato confirmed the report after security forces arrested another terrorist Muhammad Ilham Syaputra, an Indonesia national, who confessed that Baco is now leading the ISIS-inspired militant group in Southeast Asia.

Syaptura, who is an IT graduate, was the ISIS local group's drone operator and was involved in monitoring the movements of the Philippine soldiers during the first days of the Marawi battle that started on May 23.

Baco was reported to leave Marawi City at the height of the battle but police intelligence officials said they are still trying to verify the information.

The ISIS franchise was earlier led by Isnilon Hapilon of the Abu Sayyaf Group, a militant group operating in Basilan Province and Omar Maute from Lanao Sur Province. Both leaders were killed when the Philippine military launched heavy bombing on their suspected strongholds in Marawi last October 16.

The new ISIS leader for Southeast Asia traces his militant experience with the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), a regional terrorist network operating in the Southern Philippines. He was known to be a close-in associate of Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan.

Marwan is Asia's most wanted terrorist for leading many bomb attacks in different parts of Southeast Asia with US$5 million reward money on his head offered by the US government.

He was killed during an encounter with the PNP special action forces that also cost the lives of 44 policemen on January 25, 2015.

While the Philippine government claimed the war in Marawi is over, there are still dozens of terrorist fighters, known as stragglers, fighting back Philippine soldiers in the country's sole Islamic City.