MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippine military said it killed three most-wanted leaders of the al-Qaida-linked terrorist groups Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah at dawn Thursday in one of the most significant successes against militants on their southern island stronghold.
Those killed included Abu Sayyaf leader Umbra Jumdail, a Filipino, Malaysian Zulkifli bin Hir, also known as Marwan, and Singaporean Abdullah Ali, who uses the guerrilla name Muawiyah, said military spokesman Col. Marcelo Burgos.
Marwan is considered a top leader of the regional terrorist network Jemaah Islamiyah. Marwan carried a $5 million reward for his killing or capture and Muawiyah $50,000, both put up by the U.S. government.
Burgos said the military carried out the attack early Thursday morning in Parang town on Jolo Island, the stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf and their allies from the Indonesian-based terrorist network Jemaah Islamiyah.
The Abu Sayyaf is behind numerous ransom kidnappings, bomb attacks and beheadings that have terrorized the Philippines for more than two decades.
U.S.-backed Philippine offensives have been credited for the capture and killing of hundreds of Abu Sayyaf fighters and most top leaders since the 1990s. Jumdail, also known as Dr. Abu, had eluded troops in numerous offensives and emerged as a key figure in the radical movement.
The Filipino militants gave refuge to Jemaah Islamiyah operatives in Jolo and Basilan, the most senior among them Muawiyah and Marwan, who escaped authorities in their own countries.