AN Indonesian terrorist was killed along with seven Filipino jihadists in a four-hour battle with security forces in Central Mindanao, the military reported Thursday.
Maj. Felimon Tan Jr., spokesman of the Western Mindanao Command, said the battle occurred at about 5:40 a.m. when soldiers of the 61st Marine Company under the Marine Battalion Landing Team 6, were patrolling Sitio Sinapingan, Brgy. Butril, Palimbang town in Sultan Kudarat province.
The military believes the slain foreign terrorist was Sucipto Ibrahim Ali, alias Abdul Fatah, an Indonesian national and one of the original Jemaah Islamiyah members who came to the country in the 1990s to train the Abu Sayyaf.
“This group were members of the Ansar Al Khilafah masquerading as a terrorist group under ISIS,” Tan said.
Tan said they were still verifying if the slain foreigner was indeed Sucipto, who is believed to be a member of Mujahidin Indonesia Timur, which has direct links to the Islamic State.
“He would have been the link to form an alliance between Philippine jihadists and Indonesian jihadists,” National Security Adviser Cesar Garcia said.
Sucipto was arrested in Malaysia while en route to Indonesia in 2003 and was detained for three years under Malaysia’s Internal Security Act.
He was sent back to the Philippines to stand trial for the April 21, 2002 bombing of the Fitmart shopping mall in General Santos City that killed 12 people.
However, in November 2014, Sucipto was acquitted and only Indonesian Jul Kifli and Abu Sayyaf militants Ahmad Jekeron and Yacob Basug were convicted.
Intel reports showed Sucipto went back to Mindanao to continue working with the Abu Sayyaf, which has already pledged allegiance to ISIS.
Sucipto was a long-wanted terrorist along with two other JI operatives, the late Usman Basit and Zulkifli bin Hir, both killed in separate encounters with military and police forces in Central Mindanao.
The Ansar Khilafah Philippines is said to be under the command of Mohammad Jaafar Maguid, also known as Tokboy, a notorious kidnapper and bomb expert.
Tan said the ground troops were on combat patrol when they were fired on by the terrorist group numbering about 50, sparking a four-hour battle.
Clearing operations after the battle showed eight terrorists dead. Troops also recovered a homemade sniper rifle, an M-16 rifle, a 45 cal. pistol, and several improvised explosive devices. They also found radios and ISIS flags documents, Tan said.
The fighting erupted days after an intelligence source told The Standard that three Syrian nationals said to be ISIS terrorists were in Central Mindanao.
The three Syrian nationals believed to be member of an international terrorist group Islamic State slipped into the country and linked up with local militants in Mindanao, an informed source said on condition of anonymity.
The source said the three Syrians were last seen in Central Mindanao along with Amin Bako, a notorious bomber and a member of the Ansar Kilafa Philippines, an affiliated ISIS terror group.
The three Syrians, the source disclosed to have gone to Cararao Complex in Lanao province in recent weeks together with Filipino militants.
The Syrians bring to eight the number of international terrorists to have slipped into Philippine soil, particularly in Mindanao after five Malaysian jihadists, affiliated with ISIS landed in Basilan province.
Malaysian Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr. Ahmad Hamidi identified the Malaysian jihadists as University Malaya lecturer Dr. Mahmud Ahmad; stationary shop owner Mohd Najib Husen; former Selayang Municipal Council employee Muhammad joraimee Awang Raimee, 39; Darul Islan; Sabah members Mohd Amin Baco, 31; and Jeknal Adil, 30.
Ahmad said the five militants are associated with Daulah Islamiyah Asia Tenggara (Southeast Asia Islamiya Network) which has links to ISIS.