Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Malaysia Has Doubts That Terrorist Died in Airstrike

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Malaysia Has Doubts That Terrorist Died in Airstrike

Article excerpt

Last month, Philippine military officials announced that an airstrike killed Zulkifli bin Hir, a senior leader of the Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist network. But Malaysia says he probably escaped.

Malaysian investigators believe that a major Qaeda-linked terrorist whom the Philippine military says it killed last month probably escaped, a senior Malaysian police official said.

"We believe he is still alive but he is badly injured," Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay, the head of a special Malaysian task force on counterterrorism, said by telephone Monday evening. "He is still on our 'most wanted' list."

Last month, Philippine military officials announced that an airstrike early in the morning of Feb. 2 on Jolo Island killed Zulkifli bin Hir, a senior leader of the Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist network, along with several other senior militants.

The F.B.I. lists Mr. Zulkifli, a Malaysian who also uses the name Marwan, among its most wanted terrorists, identifying him as a member of Jemaah Islamiyah's central command. The United States has offered a $5 million reward for his capture or killing.

Mr. Ayob Khan said that the Malaysian police had obtained and delivered to the Manila authorities DNA samples from the family of Mr. Zulkifli that could be used to verify his death.

However, Mr. Ayob Khan said: "The Philippine National Police cannot confirm to us if Marwan was killed during the attack."

"They have yet to recover the body," he said. "Only when they find the body, or a part of the body, can they confirm."

A Philippine armed forces spokesman, Col. Arnulfo Burgos, said that results of DNA tests by the Philippine National Police were pending but that he was confident that Mr. Zulkifli was killed in the raid, as well as Abdullah Ali, another prominent Jemaah Islamiyah figure, and Umbra Jumdail, an Abu Sayyaf leader who goes by the name Dr. …

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