A German prisoner of the Abu Sayyaf Group has been forced to beg for his life in a disturbing new video.
Jurgen Kantner, aged 70, tells the camera that he will be executed at 3pm on February 26 unless 30 million pesos — $600,000 — is paid.
Last month we reported (read here) how Mr Kantner was filmed standing in a freshly dug grave wearing an orange jumpsuit. Masked militants, members of the so-called Islamic State (IS) affiliated group, address the camera, threatening to behead him.
No further details of the most recent videos are yet known. The discovery of the film is credited to SITE Intelligence Group.
The armed forces are yet to issue a formal comment on the video, as army spokesman Colonel Edgar Arevalo said it was yet to be validated.
He added that the military discouraged payment of ransom and said they would do everything possible to rescue Mr Kantner.
“We will exert all efforts to rescue him, especially now that we have a continuing operation against the Abu Sayyaf Group. Our operations have been yielding good outcomes. We are still positive that we will be able to rescue him,” said Col. Arevalo.
“We discourage payment of ransom because we believe it continues to embolden them. It continues to capacitate them. They can even buy the loyalty of the community.”
We have recently reported how IS is eyeing the Southern Philippines as a new base as they continue to lose ground in the Middle East. (See report here.)
Chief presidential peace adviser Secretary Jesus Dureza has also appealed for the release of hostages. “I will never stop appealing to the captors to spare the lives of those innocent victims for the sake of their families and loved ones,” he said.
Mr Kantner went missing on November 7 last year when his yacht was found adrift off Tawi Tawi island in the southern Philippines. (Read more here.)
The body of a woman found onboard was later identified as Mr Kantner’s partner Sabine Merz. Ms Merz was naked and had been shot to death. (Read more here.)
The abduction wasn’t the couple’s first experience of terrorism, as we exclusively revealed, in 2008 he was abducted by Somali pirates. After his release, he earned his nickname of “the Crazy German” by returning to the scene of the crime after his release to collect his yacht. (Full story here.)
Abu Sayyaf also kidnapped a German couple in 2014. They were released after 250 million pesos was paid in ransom.
Since President Duterte took office, the group has beheaded two Canadian hostages when deadlines for the payment of ransom lapsed. (Full story here.)
Acting on the president’s orders, the military has shifted its focus back to its counter-terrorism campaign. We have recently reported on how the army is making some substantial inroads, including taking down a senior IS leader. (Read more here.)
Abu Sayyaf publicly pledged allegiance to IS in 2014, but it was unclear whether this was purely for publicity. However, this week we have reported on fresh intelligence that suggests strong links, and funding flowing in from the Middle East disguised as overseas workers’ remittances. (Read more here.)
Abu Sayyaf is comprised up several small bands based in the islands of Basilan and Jolo, where they are also holding a Dutch and foreign crew members of several other vessels.