Washington: DNA tests indicate one of the United States' "most wanted terrorists," Zulkifli bin Hir, also known as Marwan, may have been killed in a raid by police in the Philippines last week, the FBI said on Wednesday.
The results of the tests conducted by the FBI "do not provide absolute identification," said David Bowdich, assistant director for the FBI's Los Angeles field office.
However, Bowdich said a sample of biological matter gathered from the scene of the Jan. 25 raid and analyzed by the FBI resembles bin Hir's DNA. Further tests were being carried out to fully verify the identity of the sample, he said.
The FBI had offered $5 million for the arrest of bin Hir, a Malaysian member of the al Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiah militant group behind numerous bombing attacks in the Philippines.
The raid to arrest bin Hir and another militant went awry. Forty-four police commandos were killed in the clash that shattered a three-year ceasefire with Muslim rebels in the south of the country.
The FBI has said it had no prior knowledge of the raid.
The Philippine army and police have been hunting bin Hir since 2003 and efforts to arrest him were stepped up when President Benigno Aquino came to power in 2010.
Counter-terrorism officials in the Philippines say bin Hir fled to the island of Mindanao in late 2000, after the Malaysian government cracked down on Islamist militants following discovery of an al Qaeda-linked organization in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.
Three years ago, the military reported that bin Hir was killed in an air strike, but he surfaced again last year in a marshy area of Mindanao under the protection of a splinter group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
Late last month, after police confirmed bin Hir’s presence at Pedsandawan village on Mindanao, a plan code-named Exodus was set into motion and hundreds of police commandos descended on the wetlands.
Noli Talino, acting commander of the Special Action Force commandos, said the 84th Special Action Force company sneaked into the village under cover of darkness and killed bin Hir.
In a eulogy on Jan. 30 for the commandos who died in the raid, Talino said their commander, Getulio Napenas, was at his tactical command post 3 km (1.8 miles) away when he got a text message: "Mike one, Bingo," meaning that bin Hir had been killed.