A Reuters exclusive report said that the FBI did not have any prior knowledge of the raid conducted by the Philippine National Police-Special Action Forces (PNP-SAF) on January 25, in Tukanalipao village, Mamasapano town, in the province of Maguindanao.
The target of the operation, which resulted in the slaughter of 44 PNP-SAF commandos by armed rebels of the Moro Islamic Liberation front (MILF), was Islamic militant Zulkifli bin Hir.
It had earlier been reported by Philippine media that the FBI had a hand at carrying out the raid. An FBI spokesperson, however, told Reuters on Saturday that this was not the case.
“The FBI was not involved in the planning or execution of the operation. We do express our deepest condolences to the brave officers of the Philippine National Police who lost their lives in the line of duty,” FBI spokesman Josh Campbell said to reporters from the international news agency.
Campbell noted that the FBI is currently involved with the case, as the agency had been asked to identify a DNA sample from the corpse of a man believed to be bin Hir.
“It is routine for the FBI to process biometric information that may positively identify a subject and his or her whereabouts,” Campbell said.
Zulkifli bin Hir is among the FBI’s “most wanted terrorists.” He is believed to be responsible for many bomb attacks in the Philippines, and carries a $5 million bounty for his arrest.