In the early hours of Wednesday morning, a mosque loudspeaker warned residents to stay indoors as over 100 officers from five Philippine army and police battalions launched raids on two locations. The operations resulted in a firefight, leading to the deaths of two senior fighters from the ISIL-linked Dawlah Islamiya Maute (DI-Maute) group, who were discovered hiding in the flats.
ISIL Leader Killed In Marawi
Neighbors expressed shock and ignorance about the presence of the militants in their community. The wife of one of the fighters, who claimed her husband was working in Saudi Arabia, was unaware of his activities. The targeted raids focused on Abu Zacharia, the head of DI-Maute and the self-proclaimed Emir of ISIL in Southeast Asia, as well as Abu Morsid, the group’s logistics mastermind.
The deaths of these senior figures have left the group without leadership, significantly reducing its local strength to a small contingent consisting mostly of child soldiers, according to an anonymous source within the Philippine military. However, the violence has also shaken the residents of Marawi, a city still recovering from the devastating five-month siege carried out by DI-Maute in 2017.
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In the house where Abu Morsid was killed, the family who unknowingly rented the property expressed shock at the discovery of bloodstains and brain matter mixed with broken concrete on the floor. They strongly condemned ISIL and recounted the nightmare of the previous siege, expressing gratitude that the authorities had apprehended the militants.
During the operation, soldiers safely evacuated a female tenant and three children from the apartment with Abu Zacharia, as well as one of the two women claiming to be sisters who rented the house where Abu Morsid was located. However, the second woman and her baby had already fled, according to the landlady and her family.
While the Philippine army designated Abu Zacharia as ISIL’s new Emir for Southeast Asia in 2022, the group’s ties to ISIL in the Middle East remain somewhat unclear, with the majority of funding and recruits now originating from local sources, according to Georgi Engelbrecht, a senior analyst based in the Philippines with Crisis Group.