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Thursday, December 6, 2007

Philippine Court Convicts 14 in 2001 Kidnapping

From NYTimes.com: A Philippine court  convicted 14 members of the Abu Sayaff group today in the 2001 kidnapping of 20 people off an island resort, including three Americans, two of whom were eventually killed.       

The 14  were sentenced to life imprisonment. Four others were acquitted.

Robert Courtney, a Department of Justice attaché at the United States Embassy in Manila, said the verdict “sends a strong message about the capability of Philippine law enforcement to deal with terrorist activities.”

The kidnappers took their hostages to the island of Basilan, which was Abu Sayyaf’s base of operations at the time. Guillermo Sobero, a Peruvian-born American from California, was beheaded. Some of the others paid ransoms and were freed.

There were accusations of collusion between Abu Sayyaf and some elements of the military, particularly after the kidnappers managed to escape from a hospital in Basilan that had been surrounded by soldiers. A subsequent Senate investigation found “circumstantial evidence” of collusion between the militants and some civilian and military officials.

Thirteen months after the kidnappings, an American-supported military operation tried to free the remaining hostages, including Martin and Gracia Burnham, a missionary couple from Wichita, Kan. But Mr. Burnham and a Filipino nurse, Ediborah Yap, were killed. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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