By Francis Wakefield
The spokesman of the Army’s 1st Infantry Division Monday has revealed the identity of the replacement of the late Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon as emir of ISIS Southeast Asia.
Major Ronald Suscano identified the new emir as Maute Group sub-leader Abu Dar, said to be a full-blooded Maranao.
Suscano made the revelation following the arrest in Sta. Cruz, Manila of Maute Group sub-leader Abdul Nasser Lomondot over the weekend.
“Ang tumatayo ngayon, diba namatay si Isnilon Hapilon, so yung tumatayong emir or lider nila ngayon na pumalit sa kanya si Abu Dar (The one who is acting as, we all know Isnilon Hapilon already died, so the one who is acting as emir or and who replaced him is Abu Dar),” Suscano said.
“Actually kwan sya, isa syang totoong Maranao talaga. Iyung parents niya taga Lanao del Sur, iyung both parents nya. Full-blooded Maranao sya, tapos I think doon din sya lumaki sa Lanao del Sur, dun sya nag-aral, dun din nag asawa, isa sa mga talagang kinikilala ng mga.. (Actually, he is a Maranao. His parents is from Lanao del Sur, both of them. He is a full-blooded Maranao and I think he grew up in Lanao del Sur, he studied there, he got married there, etc),” he added.
Suscano, at the same time, revealed that when the Marawi siege erupted or started on May 23, 2017, Dar was there and was holding lots of money when he and other members of the terrorist group managed to escaped from the MBA or main battle area.
“Based sa information na nalaman ko, nung paglabas ng Marawi siya iyung may dalang pera, siya ang nagdala ng pera palabas. Maraming perang nai-puslit nila palabas ng Marawi. Siya ang nagdala kaya marami silang pondo, sya ang may hawak.
(Based on the information I gathered he was the one holding the money, he was the one who brought the money out. There were lots of money that they managed to sneak out of Marawi City. He was the one who had the money that’s why they have lots of funds),” Suscano said.
When asked how old Dar is, he is in his 40s when looking at his photo.
“Si Abu Dar, unknown iyung age nya, pero kung tingnan mo sa mukha nasa 40 plus (Abu Dar’s age is unknown but if you will look at his picture he is in his 40s),” he said.
Suscano said based on intelligence reports they have been receiving, the known whereabouts of Dar is said to be Pagawayan, Lanao del Sur.
“Doon siya madalas nare-report kasi doon ata yung birthplace nya or doon iyung mga kamag-anak niya sa municipality of Pagayawan (It’s where he is reported to be staying because it is said to be his birthplace or it is where his relatives are),” he said.
When one will compare Abu Dar, who reportedly has established links with foreign terrorists, to Isnilon Hapilon, the latter is more radicalized than his successor.
Suscaano also said that aside from Dar, there are about nine other sub-leaders of the 313 remnants of the Maute Group.