MANILA, Philippines –A German hostage said in a video seen Tuesday that Abu Sayyaf militants are threatening to behead him if they fail to receive a ransom within 12 days in the jungles of the southern Philippines.
Jurgen Gustav Kantner, who also was kidnapped by Somali pirates years ago, tearfully spoke about the militant threat and the Feb. 26 ransom deadline in a video circulated by the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadi websites.
In the two-minute video, Kantner sits in front of four masked gunmen, including one aiming what appears to be a sickle at him, as he speaks in German in a clearing with thick foliage in the background. He sports a beard and was made to wear an orange shirt.
Col. Cirilito Sobejana, a military commander in the southern Philippine province of Sulu where the German and other hostages are believed being held in jungle encampments, discouraged ransom payment to the militants. “We discourage that because it will build up their capability further,” he said.
President Rodrigo Duterte’s adviser, Jesus Dureza, said he “will never stop appealing to the captors to spare the lives of those innocent victims for the sake of their families and loved ones.”
The Philippine military reported in November that an Abu Sayyaf spokesman, Muamar Askali, claimed the militants had kidnapped Kantner and killed a woman sailing with him off neighbouring Malaysia’s Sabah state.
Villagers reported finding a dead woman lying beside a shotgun on board a light blue yacht with the German flag and marked “Rockall” off Laparan Island in Sulu, the military said. The predominantly Muslim province is where ransom-seeking militants have held many hostages in jungle encampments.
Troops later took the woman’s body and the yacht, the military said.
The Abu Sayyaf, which the U.S. and the Philippines consider a terrorist organization, is holding at least 27 mostly foreign captives and local hostages.
Abu Sayyaf and allied gunmen have committed many attacks at sea despite efforts by the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia to jointly shore up security along their busy sea border. Indonesians, Malaysians, Vietnamese crewmen have been kidnapped from tugboats, fishing boats and cargo ships in the past months and are believed being held separately in the jungles of Sulu, about 950 kilometres (590 miles) south of Manila.
Last year, Abu Sayyaf militants beheaded two Canadian men after separate ransom deadlines lapsed, prompting the military to begin an offensive against the militants.