Philippine National Police Special Action Forces examine the site where three
most wanted leaders of the al-Qaida-linked terrorist groups Abu Sayyaf and
Jemaah Islamiyah were among those allegedly killed in a U.S.-backed dawn
airstrike in one of the most significant successes against terrorism in
Southeast Asia in recent years, in Jolo, Philippines, Thursday, Feb. 12, 2012.
The military said, the three killed terrorist leaders are Filipino Abu Sayyaf
leader Umbra Jumdail, Malaysian Zulkifli bin Hir and a Singaporean leader in
Jemaah Islamiyah Leader Abdullah Ali. (AP Photo)]

JIM GOMEZ (Associated Press) - Abu Sayyaf commander Umbra Jumdail had deviated
from the brutal image of his al-Qaida-linked militant group by playing doctor to
poor Filipino villagers, whose backing he needed to stay safe from military
troops. But those villagers may have been used by the military to finally track
him down last week.
A US-backed airstrike killed Jumdail, his son, and several other militants
while they slept in huts Thursday near Parang town in Sulu, Jolo, dealing the
latest blow to the Abu Sayyaf and depriving it of a key leader.
Surviving militants suspect that villagers secretly working for the military
helped track down Jumdail, said a military intelligence official who had been
helping monitor the militants. The official said militants believe villagers
pretending to seek medical treatment traveled to Jumdail's hideout and left some
kind of sensor that the military used to target his Abu Sayyaf lair.
While surrounded by militants notorious for beheading hostages, Jumdail had
ingratiated himself to many villagers by providing treatment for tropical
maladies. He performed jungle surgery to wounded combatants, earning the rebel
alias "Dr. Abu Pula."
Rep. Lady Ann Sahidulla, who negotiated for the release of three Red Cross
aid workers taken hostage by Abu Sayyaf gunmen in 2009, said she saw Jumdail
treating ill villagers with herbs in an Abu Sayyaf jungle encampment.
"Doc Abu was kind, but then why didn't he say no to their atrocities?" she
Philippines: 3 Southeast Asia terror leaders killed in
US-backed airstrike on island camp Hrvoje Hranjski,Jim Gomez, The
Associated PressFeb 02, 2012 19:54:00 PM
MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine military said it killed three of
Southeast Asia's most-wanted terrorist leaders in a U.S.-backed airstrike that
significantly weakens an al-Qaida-linked network that had used islands in the
southern Philippines as a hideout and training base.
The dawn strike targeting a militant camp on a remote island killed at least
15 people, including Malaysian Zulkifli bin Hir, also known as Marwan, a top
leader of the regional Jemaah Islamiyah terror network, said military spokesman
Col. Marcelo Burgos.
The U.S. had offered a $5 million reward for the capture of Marwan, a
U.S.-trained engineer accused of involvement in deadly bombings in the
Philippines and in training militants.
Also killed Thursday were the leader of the Philippine-based Abu Sayyaf
militants, Umbra Jumdail, and a Singaporean leader in Jemaah Islamiyah, Abdullah
Ali, who used the guerrilla name Muawiyah, Burgos said. Police recovered the
bodies, which were "positively identified by police and our intelligence
informants at the site," Burgos said.
However, two Philippine security officials with knowledge of the airstrike
told The Associated Press that Marwan's body was not found, though bombs
shattered the house where he was believed to have been.
They said the body of Jumdail, also known as Dr. Abu Pula, was buried
Thursday. One of the officials said the dead included Jumdail's son, also an Abu
Sayyaf fighter.
Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not
authorized to talk to reporters.
A U.S. official in Washington confirmed the strike on Jolo Island, an
impoverished region 600 miles (950 kilometres) south of Manila, and said the
Pentagon provided assistance in one of the region's most successful anti-terror
operations in years. The strike debilitated a regional militant network that has
relied on the restive southern Philippines — sometimes called Southeast Asia's
Afghanistan — as a headquarters for planning bombings and a base for training
and recruitment.
About 30 militants were at the camp near Parang town on Jolo, the stronghold
of the Abu Sayyaf and their allies from the mostly Indonesian-based Jemaah
Islamiyah, when it was bombarded by two OV10 aircraft dropping 500-pound (227
kilograms) bombs at 3 a.m., regional military commander Maj. Gen. Noel Coballes
"Our report is there were at least 15 killed, including their three
leadership," he said. "This is a deliberate, fully planned attack coming from
our forces."
The rest of the militants escaped and no one was captured, Coballes said.

American counterterrorism troops have helped ill-equipped Filipino troops
track Marwan for years using satellite and drone surveillance. About 600 U.S.
special forces troops have been deployed in the southern Philippines since 2002,
providing crucial support for the Philippines' counterterrorism operations.
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.
In Washington, a U.S. official, speaking to the AP on condition of anonymity
because he was not authorized to speak on the record about the operation,
confirmed the Pentagon had aided the strike. He was not specific about the
contribution and did not know how many people had been killed in the operation.

Marwan's death would represent the most important success against Jemaah
Islamiyah since the January 2011 arrest of Indonesian suspect Umar Patek in
Pakistan's garrison town of Abbottabad, where Osama bin Laden was killed in a
U.S. commando attack four months later.
Patek and Marwan allegedly collaborated with the Abu Sayyaf in training
militants in bomb-making skills, seeking funding locally and abroad and plotting
attacks, including against American troops in the southern Philippines.
Patek is believed to have returned to Indonesia then gone to Pakistan,
leaving Marwan to take charge in the southern Philippines, military officials
The attack in Jolo also represents a huge blow to the Abu Sayyaf's ability to
recover from years of setbacks through fund raising and training of militants.

The Philippine air force dropped four bombs from two planes, said Maj. Gen.
Jose Villarete, head of the 3rd Air Division based at an air force base in
Zamboanga city.
Abu Sayyaf is behind numerous ransom kidnappings, bomb attacks and beheadings
that have terrorized the Philippines for more than two decades.
Jumdail had eluded troops in numerous offensives and emerged as a key figure
in the radical movement.
Most recently, all three of the militant leaders were among the prime
suspects in the kidnappings of three Red Cross workers from Switzerland, Italy
and the Philippines in 2009. The hostages regained their freedom months later.

Abu Sayyaf militants, numbering about 400 by military estimates, are still
considered a key threat to regional security and are suspected in the kidnapping
of a former Australian soldier, as well as a Malaysian, a Japanese and an
On Wednesday, gunmen in nearby Tawi-Tawi island province seized Dutch and
Swiss tourists. Officials said they were trying to move the hostages to Jolo.

Gomez contributed from Bangkok. Associated Press writers Oliver Teves in
Manila, Philippines, and Pauline Jelinek in Washington contributed to this

Chief News Editor: Sol
Jose Vanzi

© Copyright, 2012 by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE
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