Top Islamist leader a close associate of M'sian terror suspect: Philippine police

Petaling Jaya (The Star/ANN) - Top Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) leader Marwan was "known to be a close associate" of Malaysian citizen Mohd Noor Fikrie Abd Kahar who was gunned down in Davao City in the Philippines, according to the Philippine police.

Its city police chief Senior Supt Ronald de la Rosa said Marwan, whose real name is Zulkifli Abdul Hir, 46, was believed to be planning a bomb attack in that area.

However, the attack was thwarted when police shot Kedah-born Mohd Noor Fikrie, arrested his wife and defused the bomb he was carrying in his backpack last Friday.

On whether they had intelligence of Marwan's current whereabouts, de la Rosa said: "We don't know where he is. But I hope and pray he is not in Davao."

Marwan, who hails from Muar, has a US$5 million (15 million ringgit) bounty on his head and is on FBI's most wanted list.

He was believed to have been killed in a US-backed air strike at a militant camp in Parang, Jolo, on February 2 but authorities have been unable to confirm his death.

De la Rosa said they had learnt through the course of interrogation that Mohd Noor Fikrie's Filipino wife Annabelle Nieva Lee was a Muslim convert.

The 26-year-old was a son of a retired policeman but had been recruited into the regional terror group JI through Facebook.

He had kept in contact with Marwan and the Abu Sayyaf through the Internet and used a Sabahan contact to travel between Sandakan and Zamboanga City in southern Philippines before he headed over to Davao.

Reports also indicated that Marwan, who conducted bomb-making and training for terrorist organisations, was last seen with Mohd Noor Fikrie in Mindanao.

Meanwhile in Kota Kinabalu, state police chief Commissioner Hamza Taib said there was no evidence yet indicating that Mohd Noor Fikrie had contacts in the state.

He added that Mohd Noor Fikrie had not been on Sabah police's wanted list.

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