MANILA, Philippines?Despite the encounter with the military last week, the Abu Sayyaf group has reportedly given the government one week, beginning Monday (March 23) to implement a military pullout and start negotiating?or they will behead one of the three international Red Cross captives.
In a telephone interview Tuesday morning, Abu Sayyaf leader Albader Parad told this reporter that the new ultimatum is for the ?serious implementation of a military pull-out? on areas they indicated in their talks with Sen. Richard Gordon, namely, Santol in Patikul and Tagbak in Indanan.
If the pullout is met, the group is still ready to release one hostage as agreed last week in talks between Parad and Gordon, head of the Philippine National Red Cross.
If this demand is not met within the time frame, Parad said he would be left with no choice but to make good on his threat to behead one of the hostages.
The hostages, all workers of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)?Italian national Eugenio Vagni, Swiss national Andreas Notter and Filipino Mary Jean Lacaba?were seized by the group in Jolo Island on Jan. 15. Today is their 69th day in captivity.
Parad said he has informed Gordon about the decision of their group.
?Kung mag-pull out naman dun sa areas na sinabi namin, kahit kanino, kay Gordon o kahit kaninong opisyal dito, ibigay namin ang isa. Hindi ako nagbabago sa sinabi ko kay senator, pero dapat alamin niya ba talaga ang sitwasyon kung talagang may pull-out o wala para magkaintindihan kami. Yung usapang lalake namin na may pakawalan akong isa, masusunod yun (If the military pulls out of the areas we specified, we will release one of the hostages to Gordon or to any government official. I have not backtracked on what I promised the senator, but he should find out the real situation, if there really will be a pull-out so we understand each other. Our gentleman?s agreement ... it will be followed),? Parad said.
According of one police intelligence source, the encounter with the military on March 16 resulted in the death of one of the key members of the group?s ruling council, Julhasbi Jalmaani, a nephew of another leading member, Raduhllan Sahiron Jumdail Abu.
The intelligence source believes the death of Jalmaani may have been the basis for the threat to decapitate one of the ICRC hostages.
Sahiron, who commands one of the biggest ASG contingents in the Patikul area, was reported by a source to have been very angry.
But the Abu Sayyaf council, also known as the Majlis Shura or Council of the Al Harakatul Al Islamiya (AHAI), prevailed upon Sahiron, and decided to allow Parad to continue talks with Gordon.
The bargain was the release of one hostage in exchange for a military pull-out in certain areas and the start of negotiations.
According to the source, Sahiron demanded a deadline. He reportedly told Parad to ?expedite the release of the hostages through the immediate arrival of negotiators or behead the hostages if the government will not take peaceful action to start the negotiation.?