CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/03 February) — The US Federal Bureau of Investigation is analyzing a biological sample provided by Philippine authorities to determine if it belongs to the suspected terrorist who was the target of a police commando operation last Jan. 25 in Mamasapano town in Maguindanao, a report said.
Reuters quoted FBI spokesperson Josh Campbell as saying that the sample is being analyzed if it belongs to Malaysian bomb maker Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan who was reported killed in the Jan. 25 dawn raid in Mamasapano.
“It is routine for the FBI to process biometric information that may positively identify a subject and his or her whereabouts,” Campbell said in the report.
The clash last Jan 25 left 44 police commandos, 18 Moro fighters and four civilians dead, and has imperiled the peace agreement signed by the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
A Philippine military official said the PNP Special Action Force seaborne unit chopped the index finger of a dead person in Barangay Pidsandawan, Mamasapano believed to be Marwan last Jan. 25.
The official who asked not to be identified told MindaNews the authorities need DNA samples to prove that Marwan was indeed killed in the raid.
“There are so many ways to extract good DNA. A bone would be a good source,” the official said.
That the FBI got hold of the biological sample gave rise to speculations that US forces were involved in the operation.
National TV showed images of a helicopter and US servicemen in civilian clothes helping in the evacuation of wounded police personnel in the early morning of Jan. 25.
Contacted by MindaNews, US embassy spokesperson in Manila Kurt Hoyer said US servicemen from the Joint Special Operations Task Force Philippines responded to a request by the Armed Forces of the Philippines “to assist in the evacuation of the dead and wounded in the Mamasapano fighting.”
Hoyer also denied any involvement of US servicemen in the police operations in Mamasapano.
The white and green helicopter shown on TV was reportedly owned by Evergreen Helicopters of Alaska and contracted by the US military to support various Department of Defense operations in various parts of the world including the Philippines.
The FBI has offered a US $5-million reward on any information that would lead to the arrest of Zulkifli or Marwan, described as Asia’s most wanted terrorist.
The Reuters report said the FBI would match the sample with the DNA sample from Marwan’s brother, Rahmat Abhir, who is presently detained at the US facility in Guantanamo in Cuba.
Abhir was arrested after US authorities tagged him for trying to smuggle firearms to terrorists in Asia. (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews)