Malaysia's most-wanted militant Mahmud Ahmad has escaped from Marawi: Police chief

Mahmud Ahmad, a Malaysian lecturer-turned-militant, has been involved in recruiting Malaysians to fight with ISIS and is also believed to be the successor to Hapilon.
Mahmud Ahmad, a Malaysian lecturer-turned-militant, has been involved in recruiting Malaysians to fight with ISIS and is also believed to be the successor to Hapilon.PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

KUALA LUMPUR (The Star/Asia News Network) - Former university lecturer-turned-militant Mahmud Ahmad is believed to have escaped from Marawi, Malaysia's police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said on Sunday (June 25).

"We cannot confirm this but authorities there report that Isnilon Hapilon managed to escape and we believe Mahmud is with him," said Khalid, the Inspector-General of Police.

Hapilon, a veteran Filipino militant, is reportedly the United States' most wanted terrorist.

Khalid refuted reports last week that Mahmud was dead, saying that intelligence indicates that he is still alive.

"Our friends in the Phillipines tell us that he is still alive," he told reporters after attending a Hari Raya open house at the police headquarters.

Mahmud is known to have been recruiting Malaysians to fight with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and is believed to have been designated the successor to Hapilon, who was named the head of ISIS's South-east Asia wing.

Mahmud trained at an Al-Qaeda camp in Afghanistan under Osama bin Laden while studying at Pakistan's Islamabad Islamic University in the late 1990s.

He then returned to Malaysia to lecture at Universiti Malaya.

After being exposed as an extremist by Malaysian police in 2014, he fled to the Philippines.

The Philippines military had earlier said that Mahmud was wounded in the fighting in Marawi last month and died on June 7 of his wounds.

However, on June 23, Khalid said police had got information that he was still alive.