The president of the Philippines wants three Islamic militant leaders “dead or alive,” and he is willing to pay hefty sums to those that bring them down.
Hundreds of militants with ties to the Islamic State (ISIS) are fighting Filipino troops in Marawi, a city in the southern Philippines. The gunmen are affiliated with the Maute Group and the Abu Sayyaf Group, two Islamic militant organizations loyal to ISIS. Their fighters carry the same black standard into battle. The military is now offering $410,000 for the “neutralization” of Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon and the Maute brothers — Abdullah Maute and Omarkhayam Maute, according to the International Business Times.
“We hope that this will bear significant accomplishments leading to the eventual arrest and neutralization of Isnilon Hapilon and the Maute brothers,” General Eduardo Ano, the military chief of staff, said Monday. Hapilon is the primary target, as authorities believe that he has been tasked with leading ISIS operations in Southeast Asia via the Philippines.
“This reflects the resolve of the administration to get the terrorists dead or alive to finally end the conflict in Marawi City,” Armed Forces of the Philippines Public Affairs Chief Col. Edgard Arevalo said.
The U.S. government is willing to pay even more for Hapilon, who is on the Department of Justice’s most wanted list. The Department of State’s Rewards for Justice Program is offering $5 million for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of Hapilon, according to the FBI.
Hapilon’s arrival in Marawi led to a raid by government security forces in late May. Filipino troops encountered strong resistance as Hapilon called in Maute reinforcements. Hundreds of armed militants quickly seized control of the city, torching churches and schools, executing police, taking hostages, and murdering civilians. The Armed Forces of the Philippines have been working to dislodge the rebels from Marawi for two weeks with airstrikes and ground raids.
The ongoing conflict in Marawi has the Philippines government deeply concerned that ISIS is attempting to secure a foothold in the southern Philippines for operations across Southeast Asia.
Authorities arrested the father of the Maute brothers at a checkpoint in Davao Tuesday. Cayamora Maute is the top leader of the radical Maute Group terrorizing Marawi, where around 40 soldiers and at least 20 civilians have been killed. Over 100,000 residents have evacuated in response to the clashes between the terrorists and the military.
The military has also made progress in Marawi, driving the armed militants back.
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