ZAMBOANGA CITY –The Philippine military has not confirmed reports that Abu Sayyaf militants whose group is tied to Islamic State have beheaded one of their Filipino hostages in the restive region of Mindanao.
Various intelligence reports suggest that fisherman Noel Besconde was killed after his family failed to pay ransom to the Abu Sayyaf. Other reports said the hostage was beheaded to avenge the recent killing of Abu Sayyaf leader Muamar Askali alias Abu Rami who died in a clash with security forces in Bohol province.
The Western Mindanao Command has not issued any confirmation of the brutal murder, but Besconde was among a group of 4 fishermen kidnapped in December last year off Sulu archipelago.
The Abu Sayyaf – which is still holding about 2 dozen Asian sailors kidnapped off Basilan and Tawi-Tawi provinces in the Muslim autonomous region – has not released a statement on the execution of Besconde.
But a senior Abu Sayyaf leader, Radulan Sahiron, was also reported to have sent surrender feelers to the military and is willing to help authorities capture or convince other commanders to surrender in exchange for amnesty. He allegedly wanted a cut in the bounties offered by government for other Abu Sayyaf leaders.
Sahiron is wanted by the Philippines and the United States on terrorism charges. The U.S. has offered up to $1 million bounty for Sahiron’s capture. “Many innocent men, women and children have died or have been seriously injured as a result of Sahiron’s actions. Sahiron played a role in the May 2001 Dos Palmas kidnapping of three U.S. citizens, including Martin and Gracia Burnham, and 17 Filipinos from a tourist resort in Palawan, Philippines. Several of the hostages, including U.S. citizen Guillermo Sobero, were murdered.”
“Sahiron is believed to be hiding in southern Mindanao where he continues to plot terror schemes that impact many communities. Because of his leadership position within the ASG, whose terrorist attacks have resulted in the deaths of U.S. and Filipino citizens, U.S. authorities consider Sahiron to be a threat to U.S. and Filipino citizens and interests,” according to the U.S. Reward for Justice. (Mindanao Examiner)
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