Duterte, military confirm death of alleged Marawi crisis financier

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The military says Dr. Mahmud Ahmad (right) allegedly helped fund the Marawi crisis.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 20) — President Rodrigo Duterte said a foreign militant who allegedly funded the Marawi crisis is already dead.

"Tatlo 'yan: Hapilon, Omar, tapos yung Doc [There's three of them: Hapilon, Omar, then Doc]," Duterte said in a Thursday night speech. "I think he is an Arab. He was taken this afternoon and that completes the story."

When asked for clarification on who "Doc" is, Armed Forces of the Philippines Spokesperson Maj. Gen. Restituto Padilla said in a Thursday night Viber message to Palace reporters that the President was actually referring to Malaysian militant Dr. Mahmud Ahmad.

"Yes. Hostages rescued know who he is and reported he was killed last night," Padilla said.

Ahmad, who is also known among extremist groups as Abu Handzalah, was said to be in charge of recruitment of fighters and was a point person for foreigners wanting to join extremist forces in the Philippines, said the Jakarta-based Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC).

He was a former Islamic Studies professor at Universiti Malaya in Malaysia who trained at an Al-Qaeda camp in Afghanistan in the late 1990s while studying in Pakistan.

Ahmad fled to the Philippines in 2014 when Malaysian authorities exposed him as an extremist.

Padilla said on Tuesday that Ahmad not only linked former Abu Sayyaf Group leader Isnilon Hapilon to ISIS, but also gave funds for the Marawi siege.

The military announced on Monday that Hapilon and Omar Maute, both major figures in the Marawi crisis, had been killed earlier that day.

Read: Marawi's liberation closer after the deaths of Hapilon, Omar Maute

The IPAC concluded that Ahmad was poised to "play a critical role" in regrouping fighters in the Philippines, coordinating with Southeast Asian fighters from the Middle East, and strategizing attacks.