KOTA KINABALU: Inspector-General of Police Mohamad Fuzi Harun today confirmed that a Sabahan teen had gone to the southern Philippine city of Marawi to fight government troops alongside his pro-Islamic State (IS) militant father.
FMT broke the news on Oct 20 about the boy, aged about 13, who was witnessed by hostages fighting security forces in the besieged city.
“We went to the suspected militant’s house after FMT alerted us to the matter. We found the boy missing,” Fuzi said.
“We confirm that the boy was taken by his father to Marawi in 2015 or 2016.
“Obviously, some family members were sympathetic to the father’s actions in Marawi. Therefore, they kept the matter under wraps.
“We urge families, friends, neighbours and local leaders to be aware of goings-on around them and to alert the authorities about any wrongdoings.”
Last Friday, FMT reported a former hostage, college teacher Lordvin Acopio, as saying the Philippine authorities had known that the boy was the son of the Malaysian militant.
Acopio, who was taken hostage by militants when fighting broke out on May 23, said the boy was always at the frontline with his father.
The father was reported to have been killed along with other militants on the last day of fighting on Oct 23 after they were cornered in a building by troops.
Another report said he could have slipped away during the final standoff with government forces.
The Philippine military reported 42 bodies were recovered after they stormed the building and the boy’s father is believed to have been among them.
It is however not clear whether the boy was among those found dead.
On Oct 23, FMT asked Philippine defence secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Twitter about the teen’s whereabouts or if he was among the 42 bodies retrieved. So far, Lorenzana has not responded.
“We don’t know where the militant’s son is. We have yet to be informed by our Philippines counterpart about him,” said Fuzi.
“We also have not received word about his father — whether he was killed or otherwise.”
Malaysian police recently said they had collected DNA samples from the family of Malaysia’s most wanted terrorist Mahmud Ahmad, who was reported to have been killed and his body found.
Police said they were ready to cooperate with the Philippine authorities to confirm if the body was indeed that of Mahmud, using DNA tests.
On whether police would also collect DNA samples from the family of the Sabahan militant father, Fuzi said, “If the Philippines requests this be done, we’ll do it.”
The former hostage, Acopio, said he had limited contact with the teenager.
“I only talked to the boy when they dropped by at the place where we were held,” he earlier told FMT.
“Sometimes, they just dropped by to rest or talk to some of the other fighters. When they were done, they’d go back to the frontline.”
Acopio, whose harrowing experience was widely reported by the Philippine media, was taken by the militants from one hiding place to another, one of which was the Bato Mosque, that was used as a command centre by the terrorists.
“There were children who were kidnapped along with their families, around 15 of them, and the Malaysian boy would play with them,” he said.
“I think the Malaysian militant and his son could speak Tagalog.
“I don’t know what they talked about because we weren’t allowed to listen in.”
Acopio said he did not know the boy’s exact age but estimated him to be about 13. “He’s small but already carrying a gun. He was involved in fighting the troops.”