KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's counter-terrorism chief made clear on Wednesday (Nov 22) there is still no confirmation that the country's most wanted terrorist, Mahmud Ahmad, is dead.
Mahmud is said to have helped to fund and recruit men for the siege of Marawi City in the southern Philippines. He is also believed to be the brain behind regional terror factions.
After the Philippine military regained control of the city, it said there was a "big possibility" that Mahmud was among 20 Islamic State loyalists killed in the fighting.
However, the head of Malaysia's counter-terrorism unit, Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay, said so far the Malaysian police have not seen the body or received any DNA confirmation.
Mr Ayob said the police have collected the DNA samples from Mahmud's family in Malaysia for verification, but so far the Philippine authorities have yet to contact them.
"How can we be sure? We have not seen the body, there was no confirmation," Mr Ayob said, speaking on the sideline of a counter terrorism financing conference in Kuala Lumpur.
A former University Malaya lecturer, Mahmud was reportedly killed along with his pregnant wife after a building collapsed in Marawi last month.
The 39-year-old is said to have received donations worth more than US$120,000 from the Malaysian public to fund militant activities.
After his reported death, his compatriot Amin Baco who was from Tawau Sabah, was reported to have become the new emir.
Mr Ayob believes that Amin's rapid rise through the ranks was because he married the daughter of slain Maute leader Isnilon Hapilon.
"(Amin) has two wives ... the second wife is the daughter of Isnilon Hapilon. That's why he rose quickly to become a general. He has one son with him in Basilan by the name of Ahmad Malqasi Amin, he is 13."
The machine gun totting boy in army fatigue was featured in a local new daily last month after one of freed hostages spoke about him fighting in the front line .
The boy is now living with his mother in Basilan, said Mr Ayob, while his father's whereabouts was unknown.
Amin was born in Tawau and started getting involved in militancy since 2001. He fled to southern Philippines in 2006 during a police raid and received training with the Abu Sayyaf group.
He later connected with Malaysian extremist Marwan Zulkifli and learned how to make bombs. Marwan, who was killed in 2015 in the southern Philippines, was once a most wanted terrorist by the US where the FBI offered US$5 million for his capture.