National police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo said Muhammad Saifuddin was killed on January 29 in eastern Deir Ezzor province where an international coalition is trying to defeat remaining pockets of IS group extremists.
“He was killed by shrapnel from a Syrian forces tank in the battle,” Prasetyo told The Associated Press.
Saifuddin was a recruitment tool for IS and appeared in several videos on radical websites. They included a 2016 video that showed him along with two other militants from Malaysia and the Philippines killing three foreigners, including Japanese journalist Kenji Goto, who were dressed in orange jumpsuits and forced to kneel before being slain.
One of Saifuddin‘s Indonesian friends, convicted militant Sofyan Tsauri, said that in radical circles Saifuddin was perceived as trusted by IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as a leader of Southeast Asian Islamic militants.
Tsauri, a former member of the al-Qaeda-affiliated network responsible for the 2002 Bali bombings who now collaborates with Indonesia‘s counterterrorism agency, said Saifuddin fled to the southern Philippines shortly after the Bali bombings.
After marrying the widow of an Indonesian suicide bomber following his early release in 2013, Saifuddin sank below the radar of authorities but reappeared several years later in an IS propaganda video that urged Indonesian Muslims to join violent jihad in Syria or the southern Philippines.