Red Cross workers kidnapped in Sulu, Philippines

January 15, 2009 § 3 Comments

Shortly after the announcement of Al Qaeda spiritual leader Osama bin Laden’s call for jihad against the so-called ” US-Zionist” alliance, members of the Abu Sayyaf Group, led by a certain Albader Parad kidnapped two foreigners and one aide member of the International Red Cross.

The kidnapping happened right under the noses of authorities, as accounts reveal that the kidnap victims were seized at gunpoint near the Sulu capitol building in Patikul town just this morning.

Sulu police director Senior Supt. Julasirim Kasim identified the kidnapped victims as Andreas Notter, 38, the Swiss head of the ICRC Office based in Zamboanga City; 62-year old Italian Eugenio Vagni and Filipina engineer Jean Lacaba, 37 of Davao City. Reports say they were seized at the Area Coordinating Center (ACC), a conference hall between the provincial capitol and provincial jail.

They were taken at gunpoint along with three other ICRC staff members. Witnesses say at least eight men with high-powered firearms emerged out of nowhere and nabbed them.

The suspects then ordered the victims to board an ICRC vehicle, leaving behind Dr. Richie Sorilla, ICRC medical field officer; Ramon Catacutan, senior field officer; and Mohamad Shihata Jikiri, field officer.

Brigadier General Eugene Clemen, commander of the 3rd Marine Brigade based in Patikul, said the victims were on their way out of the capitol compound when the armed men ordered them to board the ICRC vehicle.

Immediately after the kidnapping, Philippine president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ordered for a full manhunt against the kidnappers. Sulu governor Abdulsakur Tan meanwhile vowed to retaliate against the families of those who kidnapped the foreign aid workers.

It will be remembered that the same Albader Parad led the team which kidnapped ABS-CBN News Anchor Ces Drilon and her team. After the release of Drilon, no news as to the whereabouts of Parad. However, AFP press statements said that they continued hot pursuit operations against the group of Parad.

This caps a series of insurrectionary activities in Mindanao, which has killed scores of others. Fighting rages in the hinterlands of Sulu, Basilan, Lanao del Norte, Maguindanao and Cotabato.

Question—will this affect the ongoing efforts by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to return to the negotiating table soon? Will this also turn into a scenario similar to the Sipadan hostage crisis?

This is the most recent high profile kidnapping done by the ASG. The last time that the Abu Sayyaf Group, a known international terror organisation, held a high-profile kidnapping was in 2000, shortly prior to the ouster of former President Joseph Estrada.

This kidnapping is significant for two things: First, it involves an international organization. And second, the terror group could use this as a propaganda stunt. Given the attention in the Middle East brought by the Israeli-Palestinian clash in Gaza, this kidnapping could get worldwide attention or condemnation. This could also be misinterpreted as a coordinated effort by global terrorist groups under the ambit of the Al Qaeda.


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