Abu Sayyaf threatens to kill Americans

Abu Sayyaf, the extremist Islamist terrorist group in the Philippines, has threatened to kill two American missionaries it has been holding for the past 6 months if the Filipino army does not stop its offensive.

Abu Sabaya, spokesperson of the group, was categorical in his declarations to radio DXRZ: “We will execute Martin and Gracia if the soldiers do not halt their operations to free them”. Martin and Gracia Burnham are American missionaries were on holiday in the Southern Philippines when they were captured by the Abu Sayyaf guerrillas on May 27th. They are being held along with eight other Filipinos and their state of health is said to be precarious.

Last Friday the Filipino authorities confirmed the death of another American citizen, Guillermo Sobero, who was decapitated by the Abu Sayyaf rebels in response to a call from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to exterminate the group.

Abu Sayyaf, “The Sword of God” in Arabic, was set up in the early 1990s by Abdurajak Janjalani, who named the movement after a Mujaheddin guerrilla in Afghanistan. Abdurajak has since been killed in a fire fight but his brother, Khadaffy Janjalani, is one of the leaders of the faction in Pelawan.

Abu Sayyaf wants to create an independent Moslem state in the south of the Philippines. They reached the international headlines for the first time in April, 2000 when they kidnapped 21 people, some of whom were foreigners, from a resort in Malaysia and then took them to a hideout in the island of Jolo.

A Libyan envoy negotiated a deal in which the hostages were freed, the rebels received a 20 million USD ransom, and promptly used it to strengthen their arsenal with bazookas, mortars, Israeli Uzi assault rifles and speedboats which, according to observers, travel at faster speeds than the government launches.

The guerrilla force has reportedly between 1,000 and 4,000 operationals but it is split into different factions, divided in loyalties between different warlords on the Sulu islands. Its activities, apart from religious extremism, are predictably drugs trafficking, kidnapping (even of children), arms smuggling and extortion. Victims in the past have been beheaded or cut into pieces with machetes by these “Swords of God”.


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