KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian militant Mohd Amin Baco is believed to be leading the remnants of pro-Islamic State fighters holed up in Marawi city in the Philippines, said a regional security source, as the Philippines military conducts clearing out operations.
Amin Baco is the most senior Malaysian militant alive, following reports earlier this week that Mahmud Ahmad, the Malaysian who was pivotal in funding the Marawi siege, has been killed.
The senior regional security source told Channel NewsAsia that Amin Baco had made contact with the Philippine military to negotiate a surrender. The process is currently ongoing.
“Amin Baco, a Malaysian terrorist, is now acting as the leader of 30 members of ISIS and the Maute Group who are hiding under a mosque in barangay Sabala Manao in Marawi city, and is subject to the joint task force for operations of the Philippines’ military,” the regional source told Channel NewsAsia.
A barangay is the smallest administrative division in the Philippines.
“Amin Baco has made contact with the Joint Intel Task Group to surrender and that is now being processed,” the source added.
There were no details as to when the communication to negotiate a surrender was initiated.
"PROMINENT TERRORIST LEADER"
A native of Malaysia’s Tawau city in Sabah state, Amin Baco is believed to be a bomb-maker and a member of Darul Islam Sabah.
Darul Islam Sabah is a militant group which helped to smuggle Indonesian militants into southern Philippines to undergo paramilitary training, as well as smuggle weapons back into Indonesia.
The Philippine military has described Amin Baco as a “prominent terrorist leader and commander".
Marawi city was declared liberated by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Oct 17 as the military was conducting clearing out operations.
Two days later, Duterte announced that Mahmud Ahmad had been killed.
A 39-year-old former university lecturer, he was an important point man for Islamic State in Southeast Asia.
Amin Baco fought alongside Mahmud, who recruited men and channeled US$600,000 to finance the Marawi siege.
The siege was led by Islamic State's emir in Southeast Asia, Isnilon Hapilon, as well as the Maute Group which was founded by brothers Omar and Abdullah Maute.
Hapilon and Omar were both killed on Oct 16. The whereabouts of Omar's brother Abdullah are unknown.