Int’l terrorist targeted in Mamasapano mission has U.S. roots

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. – As the country remembers the 44 members of the Special Action Force (SAF) unit who died while on an anti-terror mission in Maguindanao, Philippines, focus has shifted towards Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli Abdhir alias Marwan, the target of the botched raid.

The FBI has not yet absolutely identified Marwan as the terrorist who was killed in that operation. But the FBI said biological samples submitted by Philippine authorities indeed came from Marwan, pointing to the conclusion that the terrorist was most likely killed.

So who is Zulkifli Abdhir alias Marwan?

The FBI, which offered a $5 million bounty on Marwan said the Malaysian-born terrorist went by multiple aliases and spoke various languages including Tagalog. Marwan is a U.S.-trained engineer believed to have been living in Southern Philippines since August of 2003.

He is thought to be the head of Malaysia’s KMM terrorist organization and a member of the Jemaah Islamiya’s central command.

Marwan was indicted in 2007 on terror charges in a Northern California court, along with his brother Rahmat. Both faced charges that include conspiracy to provide material support and contribute goods and services to terrorists. Marwan reportedly conducted bomb-making training for the Abu Sayyaf group in the Philippines. Rahmat is now in prison.

In 2012, Philippine authorities declared that they killed Marwan, along with other terrorists, in a U.S.-backed air strike in Sulu. But they recanted that statement last year, after sightings of Marwan.

The January 25 Mamasapano mission was reportedly pursued because intel reports were regarded actionable. Marwan’s wife, Joromee Dongson, is widow of an Abu Sayyaf founder, was reportedly used by U.S. and Philippine authorities as a tracer for Marwan. Her phone calls to him were said to have been tapped, which allowed them to identify his location.

You may contact Henni Espinosa at for more information.

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  • Generoso Magaoay
    5 February 2015 at 7:07 pm - Reply

    The efforts involved in the fight for terrorism in the Maguindanao area is much appreciated. However, it does not take a rocket scientist to conclude that the kind of intel used during that time was poor and still is to these day… When someone claim, blase, blase is dead, the next smart thing is to ask is “have you seen the body”? If the answer is no, then someone need to remind the Philippine authority that assumptions are the mother of all foul ups!!!

  • Generoso Magaoay
    5 February 2015 at 7:14 pm - Reply

    Supposed the “Napoles-Estrada-Revilla-Enrile Pork Barrel” did not take place, MAYBE the PNPSAF could have better EQUIPMENT equal to or greater than that of the MILF-BIFF… Well, slow down on that wishful thinking… Do not forget about the PNP leadership?