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Amid loss of leaders, unknown militant rises in Philippines

By The News · 22 of February 2019 01:36:41
This photo provided by Philippine National Police (PNP), shows militant Abu Sayyaf Group leader Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan in the PNP confidential report. Philippine and U.S. official say a little known militant has been named the new leader of the Islamic State group in the southern Philippines. The Philippine interior secretary says the rise of Hatib Sawadjaan, who is blamed for orchestrating a suicide bombing in a cathedral last month that killed 23 people on Jolo Island, shows that ISIS would latch on desperately to any militant who could provide a sanctuary and armed fighters as its last strongholds crumble in Syria. (Philippine National Police via AP), No available, This photo provided by Philippine National Police (PNP), shows militant Abu Sayyaf Group leader Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan in the PNP confidential report. Philippine and U.S. official say a little known militant has been named the new leader of the Islamic State group in the southern Philippines. The Philippine interior secretary says the rise of Hatib Sawadjaan, who is blamed for orchestrating a suicide bombing in a cathedral last month that killed 23 people on Jolo Island, shows that ISIS would latch on desperately to any militant who could provide a sanctuary and armed fighters as its last strongholds crumble in Syria. (Philippine National Police via AP)

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Philippine and U.S. officials say a little-known militant has been named the new leader of the Islamic State group in the southern Philippines.

The Philippine interior secretary says the rise of Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan (SAWA’-jahn) shows that ISIS would latch on desperately to any militant who could provide a sanctuary and armed fighters as its last strongholds crumble in Syria.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Ano says intelligence indicates Sawadjaan, a Jolo-based commander of the brutal Abu Sayyaf extremist group in his 60s, was installed as ISIS chief in a ceremony last year. He says three other extremist groups were also recognized as ISIS allies.

Sawadjaan is blamed for orchestrating a suicide bombing in a cathedral last month that killed 23 people on Jolo Island.