Abus extend beheading deadline by two hours PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 18 October 2014 11:52

As the deadline approached yesterday, a self-proclaimed Abu Sayyaf spokesperson called RMN radio to extend the threat to execute one of two German hostages by two hours if ransom demands are met.

Stefan Viktor Okonek, 74, and his wife Henrike Dielen, 55, were seized on their yacht off the coast of the Philippines’ southern Palawan Island in April.

The Abu Sayyaf are demanding a P250 million ($5.5 million) ransom to free the couple as well as calling on Germany to stop supporting the United States-led campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Iraq and Syria.

Abu Rami had said that the group would behead Okonek at 3p.m. yesterday in an undisclosed jungle area of Sulu – an Abu Sayyaf stronghold - if Germany did not cease its support.

“We are willing to extend the deadline for two hours if we get a call that ransom will be paid,” Abu Rami told RMN Network in a telephone call.

The German foreign ministry, however, has repeatedly said that threats are not an appropriate way of influencing the country’s foreign policy, and that the ministry’s crisis management department was working on the case.

Meanwhile, Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Gregorio Pio Catapang said the threat to behead Okonek was only meant to stall operations to rescue the captives and to force authorities to continue negotiations.

Reports said troops have surrounded the place where the Abu Sayyaf is holding the two Germans captive.

Since 1991, the Abu Sayyaf — armed with mostly improvised explosive devices, mortars and automatic rifles — has carried out bombings, kidnappings, assassinations and extortions in a self-determined fight for an independent Islamic province in the Philippines.

It is notorious for beheading victims after ransoms have failed to be paid for their release.

ISIL has captured large swathes of land in Iraq and Syria, later declaring the territories under its control an Islamic “caliphate.”

The U.S. and its Arab allies began bombing ISIL targets inside Syria in late September, after conducting airstrikes in Iraq since August.