Abu Sayyaf threatens to behead German hostage as he’s filmed standing in open grave

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Abu Sayyaf released a today (Wednesday, January 11) apparently showing kidnapped German Jurgen Kantner standing in a freshly dug grave surrounded by masked militants.

Mr Kantner, aged 70, is seen wearing the by now familiar orange jumpsuit as armed terrorists, standing in front of the black flag of the so-called Islamic State, threaten the German government in both Arabic and English.

“To the German government: it seems that you are not paying attention to our demands. Failure to pay the ransom will cause the beheading of this German citizen,” one of the masked men can be heard saying.

The German foreign ministry declined to comment on the video, pointing to its policy of not discussing cases involving Germans kidnapped abroad.

As we reported in November (here) soldiers found the body of Sabine Merz, Mr Kantner’s wife, on an abandoned yacht in Tawi Tawi, in the southernmost province of the Philippines, and part of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The ISIS-affiliated group confirmed that it was holding Mr Kantner. The leader of the terrorist organisation, Muamar Askali, said: “Unfortunately, the other one died. She tried to shoot us, so we shot her. She died.”

Her body was found naked and with gunshot wounds on the yacht, which flew a German flag and was docked on the remote island in the archipelago.

Since March, Abu Sayyaf rebels has been intercepting slow-moving tug boats towing coal barges in waters near the borders of Malaysia and the Philippines, taking captive more than a dozen Indonesian and Malaysian sailors.

Several hostages have been freed, after paying ransoms to the group, including two Canadians.

It is believed to be currently holding 15 captives, including a Netherlands citizen, five Malaysians, two Indonesians and seven Filipinos.

Earlier this week, President Duterte reiterated his determination to crush the Islamist rebels.

It is still unknown whether the massacre of eight fishermen this week (see our report here) was conducted by Abu Sayyaf. No group has claimed responsibility, and investigations are ongoing.

As we exclusively reported here, Mr Kantner and his wife had previously been held by pirates in Somalia.

In June 2008, the couple were steering their sailboat through Somali waters when armed pirates captured them and brought them ashore to a mountain hideout.

After 52 days in captivity and horrific conditions involving mock executions, the pair were rescued after a ransom — believed to have been $600,000 — was paid by unknown officials.

Mr Kantner then earned himself the nickname of “The Mad German Sailor” among locals, after he returned to the Somalian city of Berbera to retrieve his ship.

Abu Sayyaf continues to draw jihadists from across the world. Last week we reported on an ongoing court case in the UK, where a 28-year-old supermarket worker is accused of attempting to join the group. Read our report here.