Skyline of the island of Jolo, where the Abu Sayyaf are based.
A radical Islamic militant group from the southern Philippines, Abu Sayyaf, has threatened to behead a Red Cross hostage unless the military withdraws from the area. Abu Sayyaf has held three hostages on the remote southern island of Jolo since January 15.
Abu Sayyaf is one of several guerrilla organizations in the Philippines that has engaged in kidnappings for ransom, bombings, beheadings, assassinations and extortion. It seeks a separate Islamic state for the country’s Muslim minority.
In August, the Filipino government rejected a U.S.-backed peace deal that would have created an expanded Muslim homeland.
Last week, Richard Gordon, the chairman of the Red Cross in the Philippines, blamed the military for the collapse of a hostage-release deal.
Blogger “Fernando Gagelonia” writes that three months into the hostage crisis, it is not clear who is in charge of the situation:
The abduction of three International Red Cross workers by an Abu Sayyaf unit in the jungles of Sulu enters its third month with authorities in a public squabble over how the crisis will be resolved. […]The military appears to be angry at Gordon’s intervention in the hostage release negotiations given that scores of Marines have died in close quarters skirmishes with [Abu Sayyaf leader Albader] Parad who has repeatedly mocked the military’s failure to end the Au Sayyaf’s mastery over Sulu’s thick mountain jungles.
Blogger “Angela Stuart-Santiago” is critical of of the military response to the standoff:
Seriously though, what’s up with our military? Haven’t they been training all these last 8 years with the visiting american forces? Why then do they continue to be such dismal failures at stopping the Abu Sayyaf, among other terrorist groups, and ending the reign of terrorism in Sulu?
Writing at Filipino Voices, blogger “DJB” accuses President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo of supporting terrorism by agreeing to pay ransoms in the past:
Her government is utterly helpless because she has never done anything but hurriedly paid ransom for such hostages, unless of course they are no-account unknowns like those six summer students kidnapped and beheaded by the same bunch of head-hunting, blood thirsty savages posing as liberators of the Muslim people. This bad run of karma began way, way back when she ransomed her billionaire pal and campaign contributor, Reghis Romero, from the clutches of Kumander Robot, but left missionaries Martin and Gracia Burnham, Guillermo Sobero (later beheaded for consorting with an ASG “princess”), and dozens of non-VIP hostages who were kidnapped from Dos Palmas, robbed, killed, raped and “wedded” by the bandit terrorists in a year long spree during which the whole nation was hostaged.
Photo courtesy of Flickr user The Mindanao Examiner under a Creative Commons license.