Wednesday, July 23, 2014


April 24, 2000, Reuters, Philippines ready to intercept kidnappers,
April 25, 2000, The Singapore Straits Times, The Sipadan Incident,
April 26, 2000, AFP, Resort island hostages sighted in Philippines,
April 27, 2000, AFP, Chief government negotiator to reject any ransom demands,
June 17, 2000, The South China Morning Post, HK, SCMP : Malaysia starts own rebel talks to end drama,


April 24, 2000, Reuters, Philippines ready to intercept kidnappers,
Monday, 3:59 PM

MANILA (Reuters) - The Philippines' defence chief has said the gunmen who seized 20 people, including foreign tourists, on a Malaysian resort island are believed to be heading for the Philippines and that the Navy has been ordered to intercept them.

Orlando Mercado said a Moslem rebel group fighting for an Islamic state in the southern Philippines may be responsible.

"The kidnappers were believed to be heading towards the Philippines," Mercado told reporters on Monday. "They are not yet here although there is a strong reason to believe that they are going either to Sulu or Zamboanga, where there are many Tausogs," he said.

Members of the local Tausog ethnic Moslem group live mainly in the Sulu Archipelago and surrounding coastal areas, such as Zamboanga.

Mercado said armed forces chief General Angelo Reyes had ordered the Philippine Navy "to co-ordinate with the Malaysian Navy to intercept the kidnappers while at sea".

In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysian officials said they knew where the hostages, including six foreign women, were being held and believed they were safe. They did not elaborate. Six gunmen in camouflage uniform abducted the 20 people from Sipadan island, a diving haven off the coast of Sabah, on Sunday night. They were least seen headed towards the southern Philippine islands just 45 minutes away by boat.


Mercado told Reuters the Philippines had received information from Malaysia the kidnappers may belong to the Abu Sayyaf, one of two Moslem separatist groups operating in this country's southern islands.

"That's a suspicion but as of the moment there is no confirmation about that," he said.

"If they are Abu Sayyaf, that would obviously be an attempt to distract us...that could be a diversionary tactic so that pressure can be relieved from the efforts of the armed forces and police at Basilan."

The hostages comprise nine Malaysians, three Germans, two French, two South Africans, two Finnish, one Lebanese and one Filipino working at the Sipadan Island resort, Malaysian officials said.

Philippine troops have launched an attack on an Abu Sayyaf lair on the southern island of Basilan, where the rebels are holding hostage at least 27 people, mostly schoolchildren.

The rebels have demanded the release of three Islamic militants held in U.S. jails, including one believed to have been involved in the 1993 bombing of New York's World Trade Center.

They claimed to have beheaded two of their hostages last week because the government did not respond favourably to their demands.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the other local group fighting for an Islamic state in the Philippines, is holding peace negotiations with Manila despite intermittent clashes with government troops.

April 25, 2000, The Singapore Straits Times, The Sipadan Incident,

KL, Manila step up search for hostages

Security forces know where they have been taken, says Najib; Sipadan declared off-limits for rescue mission

Reports by Brendan Pereira in Kuala Lumpur, Luz Baguioro in Manila, and Derwin Pereira in Jakarta,

A MAJOR search-and-rescue mission by Malaysian and Philippine security forces is under way after six heavily-armed men stole onto a
world-famous diving resort off Sabah on Sunday night and grabbed 20 people, including 10 foreign tourists.

The gunmen, believed to be Filipinos, then herded the hostages to a fishing boat and headed out to international waters.

An American couple managed to escape under the cover of darkness. They ran into Sipadan Island's dense primary jungle and emerged only after first light.

Not as lucky were two French nationals, three Germans, two South Africans, two Finns, a Lebanese, eight Malaysians including a police officer, and two Filipino workers.

Malaysian Defence Minister Najib Tun Razak said yesterday that security forces had identified the area where the hostages were being held.

He declined to furnish any more details or comment on the possibilityof navy commandos being used in a rescue operation, except to say that
a crisis-management team was mapping out strategies.

Police yesterday declared the island off-limits.

Malaysian police chief Norian Mai cautioned that Sipadan was surrounded by smaller islands, and this hampered efforts to locate the captors' boat.

"We have been advised they are still alive," Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar said.

As yet, no demands have been made by the kidnappers, who were armed with AK-47 assault rifles and a bazooka. But the authorities believe that politics is behind the hostage-taking and do not rule out the hand of Abu Sayyaf, a Muslim insurrectionist group in the southern Philippines.

The drama at Sipadan Island unfolded at 8 pm on Sunday, when a group of men surprised an officer manning a police post. After that, they walked into the dining hall of a resort and rounded up the hostages.

They did not take any valuables, did not state their purpose, and spoke English with a heavy accent.

The island is about an hour's boat ride from Sabah.

In Manila, Philippine President Joseph Estrada ordered the navy and the coast guard to tighten patrols in the southern Philippine waters as the Malaysian ambassador to the Philippines held closed-door meetings with military and police authorities.

Defence Secretary Orlando Mercado told a press conference that the gunmen spoke Tausug, the dialect of a tribe in the southern Philippines notorious for piracy, smuggling and slave-trading.

"These people were known to have brought their victims to Tawi-tawi and Basilan, or in that particular direction," he said, referring to two islands at the southern-most tip of the country.

Philippine authorities were also investigating a possible link with the Abu Sayyaf group, which have been holding hostage some 20 people on Basilan island for over a month now.

"It is possible that this could be a diversionary tactic by the Abu Sayyaf because of the pressures they are feeling now in Basilan," he said.

Meanwhile, Indonesian naval bases in Balikpapan, Palu, Panakan, Nunukan and Bitung -- all near the Sipadan area -- have been ordered to be on the alert. Patrols have also increased.

April 26, 2000, AFP, Resort island hostages sighted in Philippines,

ZAMBOANGA, Philippines, April 26 (AFP) - A group of 21 hostages abducted from a Malaysian island resort are being held in the southern Philippines, Foreign Minister Domingo Siazon announced Wednesday.

The kidnappers and at least some of the ten foreign tourists among the group were sighted on the island of Jolo, a stronghold of Abu Sayyaf, the Islamic separatist group believed to be holding them, according to local officials.

The sighting -- the first since the group was abducted on Sunday -- came as a relative of one of the hostages told AFP the gunmen were seeking a ransom of more than two million US dollars for their release.

The captives -- nine Malaysians, three Germans, two French nationals, two South Africans, two Finns, two Filipinos and a Lebanese woman -- were taken at gunpoint from the dive resort island of Sipadan off the Malaysian state of Sabah in Borneo by six masked men who spoke Tausug, a Filipino Muslim dialect.

"According to our sources, they are supposed to be somewhere in Mindanao," Siazon told reporters in Manila.

The Mindanao region, including the Sulu and Tawi-Tawi island groups near Sabah, comprises the southern third of the Philippine archipelago.

Nur Misuari, the governor of a Muslim autonomous region in the south which includes Jolo, said the gunmen and some of the hostages had been spotted on the island.

"Only the whites are there. I don't know where the others were taken," he said.

"Less than 10 are in Jolo," said Misuari, a former guerrilla leader whose group signed a peace treaty with the government in 1996.

There were 10 Caucasians in the group and it was immediately clear why Misuari said there were less than that number.

Misuari said the captives were separated in two groups and were being held in two unnamed villages.

Foreign Minister Siazon said the Philippines was not planning any military operation to free the hostages.

"We are in a negotiation mode. You are in a stage where you are trying to wait for contacts from the other side," Siazon said.

In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysian police chief Norian Mai said they could not verify reports on the location of the hostages as they had yet to receive official word from the Philippine authorities.

Malaysian police said 10 suspects have been arrested over the hostage-taking incident.

There was also anothing definite about the identity of the abductors, although the Abu Sayyaf group has claimed responsibility, Mai said.

Philippine Defense Secretary Orlando Mercado and senior military officials flew to Jolo, the capital of the Sulu islands, on Wednesday to coordinate efforts to secure the release of the hostages.

As the authorites moved to establish contacts with the abductors, a report emerged for the first time Wednesday that the captors were demanding a 10-million-ringgit (2.63 million-dollar) ransom.

The ransom demand was relayed to the operators of the Sipadan resort who then discussed it with Malaysian police, said Roger Rodriguez, a nephew of Filipina resort worker Lucrecia Dablo, one of the hostages.

Rodriguez told AFP that a Filipina co-worker of Dablo at the resort "called up Tuesday night to inform us that the kidnappers were demanding 10 million ringgit."

The Abu Sayyaf itself is under a four-day siege by government forces in the southern Philippine island of
Basilan, where they are holding at least 27 Filipino hostages, including a Roman Catholic priest and at least a
dozen schoolchildren.

Manila resorted to force after a month of negotiations, during which the rebels demanded the release from US jail of Ramzi Yousef, the convicted mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing in New York.

June 17, 2000, The South China Morning Post, HK, SCMP : Malaysia starts own rebel talks to end drama,
by Ian Stewart in Kuala Lumpur and Raissa Robles in Manila

Malaysia, frustrated at the Philippines' inability to end the almost two-month hostage saga, yesterday said its own team of negotiators had opened talks with the hostage-takers.

A source familiar with the area where the 21 hostages are being held said 15 emissaries from Malaysia had established contact with the Abu Sayyaf Muslim extremists in the jungles of southern Jolo Island.

Contact was made as the official Philippine Government negotiating panel further delayed attempts to renew talks with the guerillas.

Malaysia's Foreign Minister, Syed Hamid Albar, flew to Manila this week to express Malaysia's concern over the prolonged crisis in a meeting with President Joseph Estrada. But he asserted Malaysia would
neither support nor give its blessing to private initiatives by any group to secure the hostages' release.

He also said that everything Malaysia did at any time would be with the knowledge and concurrence of Malaysia's "Philippine brothers".

The move came as Philippine negotiators broke off talks with the kidnappers over growing demands and reports of an assassination plot against the leader of the government team.

The Malaysian-backed negotiators reportedly are former members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), which signed a peace treaty with the Philippine Government in 1996. A number of Muslim Moro rebels made Malaysia their base during the years of conflict with the Manila Government and the MNLF was said to have friendly links with Kuala Lumpur, where the government leaders are also Muslim.

The Moro team is reportedly offering US$300,000 (HK$2.3 million) for each Malaysian hostage. The Abu Sayyaf kidnappers had asked for US$1 million for each captive. An added complication is a demand by the
Muslim rebels concerning the Malaysian state of Sabah.

According to different reports, they were asking either for the annexation of the Borneo state or for an investigation into alleged human rights violations against the 500,000-strong Filipino community in Sabah.

Malaysian government officials said Malaysia was prepared to address the problems of Filipino migrants in Sabah. It now appears, if the report about Malaysian-backed emissaries is true, that Malaysia is also prepared to pay for the release of the hostages.

Nine Malaysians are among the hostages who also include three Germans, two nationals each from Finland, France, the Philippines and South Africa, and one from Lebanon. They were kidnapped from the Malaysian
resort of Sipadan off Borneo on April 23 and are now in their 54th day of captivity in the jungles of Jolo Island.

The Philippine Government negotiators delayed a return to Jolo scheduled for yesterday. An aide to chief negotiator Roberto Aventajado said the panel was still meeting in Manila to hammer out a new strategy.

The Philippines has accused the Abu Sayyaf of making "impossible" demands in earlier talks, including their insistence on the establishment of an independent Islamic state in the southern third of largely Catholic Philippines.

German Ambassador to the Philippines Wolfgang Gottelman used Monday's celebration of Philippine Independence Day to express dissatisfaction for the first time over the slow pace of negotiations.

He disagreed with Manila's line that historically, previous negotiations to free hostages had taken three months or more to bear fruit.

Wary of any foreign interference, the Government has so far refused overseas help.

Manila's problem is two-fold, a source in the Muslim community said. It must find a chief negotiator trusted by President Estrada and the Abu Sayyaf and a face-saving way out of the no-ransom policy.

Former president Fidel Ramos, a diplomat's son, quietly turned a blind eye to the payment of "board and lodging" fees for hostages' release, then unleashed the military to hunt down the Abu Sayyaf.

Although Mr Estrada was "allergic" to being compared to Mr Ramos, he had no choice but to do the same, the source claimed.

April 27, 2000, AFP, Chief government negotiator to reject any ransom demands,

JOLO, Philippines, April 27 (AFP) - The chief negotiator for the release of 21 hostages seized in Malaysia and brought by their Muslim extremist captors to the southern Philippines said Thursday he would reject any ransom demands.

Asked about news reports that the kidnappers were demanding more than two million dollars, former Muslim rebel leader Nur Misuari said: "I will not entertain monetary considerations."

Misuari, 59, prepared Thursday to fly to the southern island of Jolo to seek the freedom of the three Germans, two French nationals, two South Africans, two Finns, a Lebanese woman, nine Malaysians and two Filipinos seized Sunday from the Malaysian resort island of Sipadan off Borneo.

He said Wednesday that some of the foreign captives had been sighted on Jolo, the biggest island in the Sulu group in the southernmost section of the archipelago near Borneo.

The hostages had been split into two groups in the town of Talipao, he said.

Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan told AFP Thursday the captives were being regularly moved and warned against any military action to free them.

"The hostages are being moved from one municipality to another because these are very close to each other," he said. "I have sent my emissaries to verify and find out their demands. This is not an easy situation."

He added: "I don't think we should make any move to free the hostages."

Misuari, now the governor of a southern Muslim autonomous about any ransom demand, but had read about it in the press.

A relative of one of the Filipino captives told AFP on Wednesday the kidnappers, who took the captives across the sea border into the southern Philippines, had demanded more than two million dollars.

Misuari, the leader of the former separatist Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) which signed a peace treaty with the government in 1996, said in a radio interview before he left Manila for Jolo that he was confident of securing the release.

He confirmed the captors belonged to the Islamic guerrilla group Abu Sayyaf and said some were related or known to his followers in the MNLF, which has observer status in the Organization of the Islamic Conference, an influential forum of Muslim states.

Misuari also said he dispatched a senior MNLF aide and two assistants to talk to Galib Andang, alias "Commander Robot," believed to be the head of the unit which snatched the hostages. The aide is Andang's uncle, he said.

"I will try my best but I cannot promise miracles," he said.

He said he was satisfied with his written mandate from the Philippine government, which has authorized him to seek the help from the military.

But he said he would also meet officials at the presidential palace to widen his authority to include police units.

Misuari also said he had heard the kidnappers were demanding the reactivation of an agreement with the government that would enhance local fishing rights.

The Abu Sayyaf, with about several hundred armed followers, is the smaller of two Muslim separatist rebel groups in the main southern region of Mindanao. It is also the most violent.

Abu Sayyaf gunmen are currently under seige by army troops in the island of Basilan where they are holding another group of 27 Filipino captives, including a Roman Catholic priest and several school children.

May 13, 2000, Abu Sayyaf was created to tarnish Muslims in the Philippines

For full report of the real story behind the kidnapping, see [really dead link]

The government will never allow the creation of an Islamic State in Mindanao. The first ABU SAYYAF was created by the Government of the
Philippines under the Ramos Administration (1992-1998). The main purpose of the ABU SAYYAF is to damage, destroy, tarnish, and to make sure that any bid or attempt by any legitimate Muslims group, such as the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front), to launch a bid for independence is thwarted. It was headed by certain Abdul Rajak Janjalani. Their orders were/are to commit terrorist acts such as kidnapping, attacking towns, and committing bombings whenever the Administration is under fire or under the scrutiny of the press or a bid for independence is strengthening among the Muslims of the Philippines.

(Courtesy of Ali bin

AKAS International Fareha

No comments:

Post a Comment