PETALING JAYA: The death of another Malaysian fighting for the Islamic State (IS) militant group in the Philippines has been confirmed, one year later, New Straits Times reported.
The conflict in southern Philippines has been long and drawn out over the past few years, and has now peaked with martial law being declared by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in May.
Malaysian Jeknal Adil was understood to have been killed during a battle in Basilan last July but it was not confirmed until recently. He was known to be a “seasoned fighter” and was a Sabahan.
He went by the name Abu Shabah Al Muhajir after joining the Abu Sayyaf terror group, which is affiliated to IS, and was said to be one of two Malaysians to have led the group’s stronghold in Basilan.
His death was narrated in detail by IS propaganda magazine Rumiyah, released last month.
“Abu Shabah” was preparing breakfast for members of his camp when he heard the rumblings of heavy artillery headed their way, the report read.
According to NST, Jeknal and Amin Baco, also from Sabah, left Malaysia in 2010 to join Abu Sayyaf.
They were joined by three more Malaysians, who fled the country in 2014, and together became part of the “Khatiba Muhajrin”, which also comprises fighters from Indonesia and is led another Malaysian, Dr Mahmud Ahmad, who was once a lecturer at Universiti Malaya.
Jeknal’s death was also confirmed by Bukit Aman Special Branch Counter-Terrorism Division principal assistant director, Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay, who said intelligence gathered indicated that Jeknal was killed during an ambush by Philippine armed forces.
According to the report, Jeknal received military training at an Abu Sayyaf camp on Jolo island between September 2005 and March 2006.
“He was arrested on March 16, 2006, with another Indonesian militant, and held under the now-defunct Internal Security Act at the Kamunting detention centre. He completed his restriction order on May 10, 2010, and made his way to southern Philippines about six months later,” Ayob told the daily.
Jeknal had reportedly escaped the police dragnet when he returned to Sabah to facilitate the relocation of Amin’s wife and children to Mindanao.
Sources have revealed that Jeknal chose to leave his life in Sabah after failing to obtain a Malaysian identification card.
“Technically, although he is regarded as a Malaysian, he doesn’t have citizenship. He was born in Sabah, but his father was a Filipino and his parents did not register his birth. Without an identification card, it was difficult for him to get a job or get married, so he decided to leave,” NST quoted the source as saying.