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No surrender, Amin Baco may have given military the slip

KOTA KINABALU: Malaysian militant Mohd Amin Baco@Abu Jihad (pic) could have slipped out of a military cordon at a mosque in Marawi City after offering to surrender with his group days earlier.
Intelligence sources said the 34-year-old was holed up with about 30 Islamic State (IS) gunmen at the mosque in Sabala Manao village that was surrounded by Philippines military snipers.
Late last week, Amin Baco, who is believed to be the leader of the group, sent out feelers wanting to surrender following the death of Dr Mahmud Ahmad, the Universiti Malaya lecturer-turned-terrorist.
The sources said he could have abandoned the other militants and escaped to neighbouring villages in Marawi City, which the Philippines government liberated from the Black Flag fighters.
The sources said many of the bodies were decomposing. They could have been killed much earlier.
“This has made it difficult to identify the dead militants, especially the foreigners,” said a source who believed that there was no indication that Amin Baco and other Malaysians were among them.
Although Dr Mahmud’s body had yet to be identified, intelligence sources said that based on witnesses’ account, they were certain that a sniper’s bullet had killed him.
Dr Mahmud was touted as next in line to Isnilon Hapilon, the slain emir of the IS in South-East Asia.
Declaring Marawi City as being free from militants and an end to combat operations, which began on May 23, Philippines Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the militants were no longer a threat to Marawi City.
Philippine military are also hunting for Isnilon’s three sons.
Amin Baco, who is from Tawau, Sabah, married into a prominent Abu Sayyaf family in Jolo island in southern Philippines. His father-in-law is the late Hatib Sawadjaan, head of an Abu Sayyaf faction.
He was among the group which Dr Mahmud described as one of the masterminds and fundraisers of the Mararwi siege that saw a local Maute family team up with Abu Sayyaf and foreign fighters to set up a caliphate in Mindanao.
Amin Baco, a former member of Darul Islam Sabah (DIS), an offshoot of Indonesia’s Darul Islam and Jemaah Islamiyah, facilitated militant travel and firearms smuggling between Indonesia and the Philippines, via Sabah.
He has been on the Malaysian police “wanted list” since a 2006 crackdown against DIS that saw 16 of its members arrested under the now-abolished Internal Security Act.
He is believed to have teamed up with a stateless 30-year-old Sabahan of Filipino descent, Jeknal Adil @ Jek, 30.
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