Abu threat to behead hostage called a bluff

ZAMBOANGA CITY—The Abu Sayyaf’s threat to behead one of the three kidnapped workers of the International Committee of the Red Cross was just a “gimmick,” a source involved in the ground operation said Wednesday.

They issued the threat to buy time and negotiate for a ransom, said the source, one of the recognized militia leaders in Sulu.

“They’re only after money. They want ransom money, they will not hurt their hostages, unless of course they are weakened, killed off and left with no other choice,” the source said.

Octavio Dinampo, a Mindanao State University professor and a former Abu Sayyaf kidnap victim himself, gave the same assessment.

Although the Abu Sayyaf is quite capable of executing the hostages, Dinampo said the threat by Abu Sayyaf leader Albader Parad to behead one of the hostages if the military pursuing the group does not pull out was a “diversionary action” because Parad and his group no longer hold custody of the three ICRC personnel.

Dinampo, who is on a fellowship at the American University in Washington, D.C., said he has kept track of the two-month-old ICRC kidnapping crisis in Sulu.

The three ICRC workers—Swiss national Andreas Notter, Italian Eugene Vagni and Filipino Mary Jean Lacaba—were abducted by the Abu Sayyaf in Jolo on Jan. 15.

“The three captives are already split up between Doctor Abu and Radulan Sahiron’s team,” Dinampo said.

Senior Supt. Julasirim Kasim, the Sulu police chief, said he received reports of Parad’s threat 10 days ago but it has not been validated.

“We cannot say if it’s true or just a bluff, but we are dealing with all information as true for the sake of three kidnap victims,” he said.

The military Wednesday said it would maintain its presence around the Parad group despite the threat to behead one of the hostages, but not so close as to invite confrontation.

“We are going to deploy our troops as far as possible but not so far as to ease the pressure, but not too near as to trigger confrontation,” said Armed Forces Chief of Staff Alexander Yano.

“We have not closed in, not moved forward, we have not done any offensive action as yet because we feel that we have to explore all possibilities to rescue or recover the hostages,” he said.

Julie Alipala and Tarra Quismundo, Philippine Daily Inquirer

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Published in: on March 26, 2009 at 6:22 pm  Comments Off on Abu threat to behead hostage called a bluff  
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