The military's Western Mindanao Command releases photos of theGermanyacht 'Rock All' recovered by security forces at sea off Pangutaran Island in southern Philippines. The boat was hijacked by the Abu Sayyaf on November 6, 2016 offSabahin Malaysia and seizedGermanyachter Juegen Kantner, 70, and killed his companion Sabine Merz, 56, that officials claimed was probably raped. (Mindanao Examiner)
ZAMBOANGA CITY – Abu Sayyaf rebels tied to the Islamic State have threatened to behead a German yachter kidnapped last year off Sabah near southern Philippines if their ransom demand is not paid.
The rebels, who are holding Jurgen Kantner since November, have set their deadline on February 26. The 70-year old Kantner was kidnapped while with his wife Sabine Merz, 56, when Abu Sayyaf gunmen intercepted them just several nautical miles from the southern province of Tawi-Tawi, in the Philippines Muslim autonomous region.
The woman was killed and naked when found by soldiers in the boat. A shotgun was also recovered near her body, according to the military’s Western Mindanao Command. It said an Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Muamar Askali phoned a media organization in Zamboanga City to say that they are holding Kantner and demanding P500 million for his safe release.
The Abu Sayyaf demand was contained in a video released on February 14 on Telegram Messenger where it showed Kantner pleading to his government to save his life. The rebels were now demanding P30 million ransoms.
In April 2014, Askali’s group also kidnapped two German yachters - Stefan Viktor Okonek, 71, and Henrike Diesen, 55, while heading to Sabah from a holiday in the Philippines and demanded P250 million in ransoms in exchange for their lives.
Askali originally demanded from Germany – on top of the ransoms - to cease all support to U.S. coalition campaign against Islamic State which is fighting for a caliphate in Syria and Iraq. The duo was freed six months later after the German government paid the ransoms delivered by Filipino security officials. The Abu Sayyaf is still holding about two dozen Malaysian, Indonesian and Vietnamese sailors kidnapped last year in Sabah and Basilan province, also in the autonomous region.
The Philippines is hunting down at least 23 people who were identified and wanted by Malaysian authorities for the string of ransom kidnappings and attacks at sea off Sabah.
Six of the 23 individuals, mostly Abu Sayyaf members, have arrest warrants against them in the Philippines, and that they and 15 others are being pursued by law enforcement and military authorities in the hinterlands of Sulu and Basilan, the Philippine Embassy in Kuala Lumpur also said.
The six individuals are Apo Mike, alias Majan Sahidjuan; Hatib Hayan, alias Sawadjaan; Alden Bagde, alias Sayning; Muamar Askali, alias Abu Rami; Idang Susukan and Alhabsi Misaya.
Philippine authorities have killed the notorious Muktadil Brothers Gang with the deaths of Mindas Muktadil in May 2015, and Nikson and Brown Muktadil in September 2016. Khadafy, one of the individuals named by Malaysian authorities, was arrested in November 2015 and is detained at the Zamboanga Del Norte Provincial Jail.
The Eastern Sabah Security Command recently released the names of 23 people sought for involvement in kidnapping incidents in the coastlines and waters of eastern Sabah.
The 16 people who are at large and being pursued by Philippine authorities are Salvador, alias Badong Muktadil; Salip Sosong, alias Mohamad Apsa Abdulla; Halipa, Ibrahim, Sabri Madrasul, alias Salip Jul; Las Pangit, Marajan Asiri, Raden Abuh, Bocoi, Sangbas, Berong Sairol, alias Boy Master; Bensaudi Sairol, alias Boy Pangit; Boy Intel, Atai Susukan, Durog Hussein and Saidul Idul.
President Rodrigo Duterte and Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak agreed to deepen collaboration in stemming the kidnapping incidents in the Sulu-Sulawesi Seas.
The Abu Sayyaf group, formed by Ustadz Abdurajak Abubakar Janjalani in 1992, continues to recruit members to fight the government in their attempt to set up a strict Islamic caliphate in Mindanao.
It now has hundreds of members in the Muslim autonomous region and the military had failed to stop the growing influence and violent campaigns of the rebel group because it did not sustain the combat operations needed to wipe out the Abu Sayyaf in the restive region. Much of the military’s huge budget goes to combat operations and its modernization program. (Mindanao Examiner)