In the dead of night, close to 400 Filipino police commandos comprising the country’s Special Action Force (SAF) moved into position. Their target: Malaysian national Zulkifli bin Hir, aka “Marwan.” A hardcore member of Indonesia’s Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), Marwan was believed killed in 2012 by what was most likely a drone strike coordinated with U.S. forces. After the strike, SAF combed the area, finding body parts strewn across the jungle, but could not confirm Marwan as being among the dead. It was several years before it was discovered that the JI terrorist was alive and well. Acting on intelligence from local assets, the Philippine National Police Special Action Force executed “Oplan Wolverine” at 3 am on the 25th of January.

Sources inform SOFREP that the SAF assault force entered and cleared a series of three huts where Marwan was supposed to be bedding down for the night. Receiving gunfire, it has been reported that the assaulters summarily eliminated Marwan. The SAF men then took photographs of the body for evidence and considered cutting off his hand to bring back as well until their commanding officer ordered them to bag up the corpse and take it with them.

Meanwhile, at a nearby location, a SAF blocking force got hit hard by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) with whom Marwan had worked. The SAF element was located there to help isolate the objective area, but soon become encircled in a cornfield, their backs to a river, which prevented a tactical withdrawal. The SAF was then engaged in a 13-hour-long firefight with BIFF, losing 44 police officers in the process. In order to maintain the operational security around Oplan Wolverine, the Filipino military was not informed of the mission until it was already underway. Under fire, isolated, and alone, there would be no reinforcements sent to aid the SAF officers.