Kidnappers holding Australian in Basilan
KORONADAL CITY—An Australian kidnapped in December in Zamboanga Sibugay is being held in Basilan by an al-Qaida-allied group that is demanding $2 million in ransom, authorities said.
The ransom demand, however, was rejected by the Australian government, according to an Australian official in an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corp (ABC). The Australian government, according to Federal Human Services Minister Brendan O’Connor in the ABC interview, “will not shell out a single cent” for the release of Richard Warren Rodwell.
Chief Supt. Felicisimo Khu, head of the Directorate for Integrated Police Operation in Western Mindanao, said Rodwell is alive and being kept in Basilan. “Negotiation is still ongoing,” said Khu, without elaborating what kind of negotiation was going on.
Rodwell, a former member of the Australian army who married a Filipina, was snatched at his home in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay, last Dec. 5.
A few weeks after, his kidnappers leaked a video of Rodwell pleading for his life and payment of ransom.
Chief Supt. Bienvenido Latag, head of police in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said Rodwell was being kept in Sumisip, Basilan, by Abu Sayyaf bandits led by a certain Radzmeer Ali. The Abu Sayyaf is an al-Qaida-allied terror group that continues to operate in Basilan and Sulu despite massive resources poured by government and the United States into the campaign to obliterate it.
Latag, quoting intelligence reports, said the Abu Sayyaf planned to transfer Rodwell to Talipao, Sulu, and hand him over to the group of another Abu Sayyaf leader, Radulan Sahiron.
Sahiron, also known as Commander Putol, is one of the most notorious Abu Sayyaf leaders in Sulu and is based in Patikul town. Reports from Jeoffrey Maitem and Julie Alipala, Inquirer Mindanao
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