AFP Chief of Staff confirms ISIS funded Marawi siege

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 26) — Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Año confirmed Wednesday ISIS gave the Maute group at least $1.5 million for the Marawi siege.

Speaking to CNN Philippines' News Night on Wednesday, Año said the international extremist group's funding triggered the Maute forces' attack of the city.

"That's true. It has also been confirmed by other foreign intelligence agencies. That actually triggered everything from migration or the transfer from Hapilon's place of Basilan to Butig and then the grand planning and the final execution," he said.

Maute forces took over Marawi City on May 23. It took five months of fighting before the government finally declared victory against Southeast Asia's "most serious threat of violent extremism" on October 23.

READ: Fighting in Marawi City is over

Año said the Maute group attacked Marawi to justify the funding given to them by the middle-east based ISIS.

"They have to do it because they have to justify the financial support given to them by ISIS under Al-Baghdadi," he said, referring to the group's leader, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. 

ISIS, which started as a splinter of the Al Qaeda group, aims to create an Islamic State in Iraq, Syria, and in other parts of the world.

Prior to declaring victory, the government had reported there were foreign fighters among the Maute in Marawi. The military said they had killed foreign terrorists believed to be members of ISIS.

READ: Timeline: The Marawi crisis

Just last Tuesday, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the government has tagged more than 60 Malaysian, Indonesian, and Filipino terrorists fighting for ISIS in Iraq who could attempt to slip into the Philippines. He said the Defense department is monitoring their movements in case they try to enter the country.

READ: Lorenzana: Terrorists in Iraq could move to PH