The Abu Sayyaf group has threatened to behead a German hostage unless a $100,000 ransom is paid by February 26.
The hostage, long-time sailing cruiser Jurgen Kantner, was captured in November near the pirate stronghold of Tawi Tawi. In a video released last week, Kantner – surrounded by Abu Sayyaf fighters – addressed the German government, warning that the terrorists will kill him if the ransom is not paid soon.
The Philippine military is still working to confirm the authenticity of the video, but a spokesman discouraged the idea of paying for Kantner’s release. “We don’t support ransom. They will just build their capability some more if they have money,” said Colonel Cirilito Sobejana, commander of Joint Task Force Sulu in comments to the Inquirer.
Abu Sayyaf has often made good on its threats. Last year, the group beheaded three prisoners – John Ridsdel, Robert Hall, and Philippine national Patrick Almodovar – after ransom demands went unmet.
The group is believed to be holding more than two dozen hostages at present, most of them seafarers who were captured from tugs and trawlers. It has released eleven captives since last June, including Norwegian national Kjartan Sekkingstad. Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana recently told CNN that Abu Sayyaf had released so many hostages thanks to the pressure of an intensified government offensive. (Analysts suggest that kidnapping is a lucrative practice for Abu Sayyaf, but the Philippine government does not generally comment on whether ransoms have been paid.) – Read on and Comment here.