The alleged overall “emir” or commander of the terrorist group Daulah Islamiyah (DI) – Philippines was killed in an encounter with the Philippine Army in Talayan, Maguindanao early morning Friday, Oct. 29.
Salahuddin Hassan with aliases Orak, Abu Salman, and Abu Saif was “successfully neutralized” in an operation conducted by the Army’s 6th Infantry Division in Sitio Pinareng, Barangay Damablac in Talayan town around 2:25 a.m.
He was considered as the emir of the Islamic State (ISIS)-inspired Daulah Islamiyah in the country and commander of the DI-Hassan Group.
Also killed during the operation was Hassan’s wife, Jehana Mindbida alias “Jen,” who allegedly served as the finance officer of the DI-Hassan Group.
Hassan and his followers were blamed for a series of bombings and terror attacks in Maguindanao, North Cotabato, and Sultan Kudarat, according to Gen. Jose Faustino Jr., Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
Faustino commended the operating units of the 6ID – particularly the 1st and 2nd Mechanized Infantry Battalion — for the successful operation that led to Hassan’s death.
Col. Pedro Balisi Jr., commander of the 1st Mechanized Infantry Brigade, said Hassan was the subject of a “special operation” crafted by the 6ID under the supervision of the Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) following a continuous manhunt and sustained military operation with the help of several leads from concerned residents in the area who reported the presence of suspiscious armed individuals in their community.
The carefully crafted operation bore fruit when the troops engaged Hassan’s group in a brief firefight that lasted for only about five minutes.
Hassan allegedly tried to escape by engaging government troops but he was seriously wounded in the firefight and was left by his group along with his wife.
“This latest accomplishment is a significant blow against the DI-HG and another victory in our thrust against terrorism. With their leader now dead, the terrorist group will certainly crumble,” Faustino said.
Hassan was the former leader and founder of the notorious Al-Khobar Group, a splinter group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) which eventually evolved to be a notorious crime syndicate that orchestrated different attacks in Mindanao from 2007 to 2015.
He was a student of the late Basit Usman, a bomb expert and sub-leader of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighter (BIFF), and Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli Abdhir Marwan. Hassan replaced Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan as the over-all Amir of Daulah Islamiyah (DI) in the Philippines after the latter’s death in 2020.
Hassan was identified by the military as the mastermind of the Yellowbus unit bombing in Tulunan, Cotabato on Jan. 27, 2021; and the burning of another Yellowbus unit at M’lang, Cotabato last June 3 which resulted to the death of four civilians and wounding of several others.
His group was also responsible for the extortion, liquidation, and bombing activities in Central Mindanao targeting business personalities and companies.
His group was tagged in the 2014 Maramag, Bukidnon Rural Transit bus bombing which left at least 11 dead and 15 injured; the Davao Night Market bombing in 2016 that killed at least 14 civilians; and the Isulan twin bombing in Sulu in 2018 which killed five individuals and wounded at least 40 others.
“We attribute the successes of our operations against local terrorists to the dedication and perseverance of our soldiers, and the growing support of our people in the whole-of-nation approach towards peace and development,” Faustino said.
“Peaceful activities such as Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism (PCVE) programs, which address the root causes of terrorism, prove to be effective in denying terrorists the opportunity to recruit members and stage atrocities in vulnerable communities,” the AFP Chief added.
The bodies of Hassan and his wife were recovered during the clearing operations of the troops and brought to the headquarters of the 1st Mechanized Infantry in Barangay Kabengi, Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao for proper disposition.
Also found at the clash site were an R4 rifle, a bandolier, two cellular phones, and six magazines with ammunition.