A DNA test undertaken by the United States government has confirmed the death of a senior terrorist leader in the Philippines, who was among those behind the five-month Marawi siege in 2017. Officials of the Department of National Defense and the military said on Sunday that the DNA test in the US verified the death of Owayda Benito Marohomsar, also known as Abu Dar. “Oo, positive (Yes, it’s positive). Its Abu Dar’s remains,” said Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana in a phone message to BusinessWorld. The confirmation came a month after Abu Dar was killed in an encounter in Lanao del Sur. A military official who asked not to be named also confirmed the result, but said they have yet to make an official announcement as they await a copy of the DNA results from the Philippine National Police Scene of the Crime Operatives. The military official said Abu Dar’s death has further weakened the local group that has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, and there is no likely next-in-command who could replace him. “Ngayon namatay na siya (He is now dead). So it could mean the end also of Daulah Islamiyah Lanao… wala kaming nakikita sa ngayon na pwede pumalit na leader (we do not see anyone who could take his leadership position),” the Mindanao-based official said. Abu Dar slipped out of Marawi during the height of the fierce fighting between extremist groups and government troops that left the central part of the city in ruins. He went on to lead the group Daulah Islamiyah Lanao. He was killed in pursuit operations of the military. He, along with Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute of the Maute group, are believed to have plotted the attack in Marawi. Both Hapilon and Maute were killed in military assaults towards the end of the siege. — Vince Angelo C. Ferreras