MANILA, Philippines (AP) – A top al-Qaida-linked militant accused of masterminding the kidnapping of three Americans who was long wanted by U.S. and Philippine authorities has been killed, the military said Wednesday.
Jainal Antel Sali Jr., popularly known as Abu Sulaiman – a top leader of the Abu Sayyaf rebel group – was fatally shot in a fierce gunbattle Tuesday in a clash with army special forces, military chief Gen. Hermogenes Esperon said.
Sulaiman is the highest-ranking Abu Sayyaf commander killed by U.S.-backed troops. Washington had offered up to $5 million for his capture.
“We have resolved that this group and their major commanders must be finished off, that this notorious group should see its end,” Esperon told a news conference.
The three Americans kidnapped (among those of other nationalities) May 27, 2001, by the Abu Sayyaf terroist group were Martin & Gracia Burnham and Guillermo Sobero. Martin Burnham was killed during firefight between the Philippine military and the terrorists on June 7, 2002. Gracia Burnham was injured from the gun battle but was finally free. Sobero was beheaded sometime around June11, 2002.
In case you’ve forgotten, here is a chronology of events.
- May 28, 2001 – Suspected ASG gunmen raid the Dos Palmas resort off the western Philippines island of Palawan and seize 20 hostages including a US couple and former Manila Times owner Reghis Romero. Arroyo rules out ransom and orders the military to go after the kidnappers.
- May 29, 2001 – Malacañang imposes a news blackout in Basilan province where the Abu Sayyaf are reported to have gone.
- May 30, 2001 – US State Department Spokesman Philip Reeker calls for the “swift, safe and unconditional release of all the hostages.” An Olympus camera and an ATM card of one the hostages are found in Cagayan de Tawi-Tawi island. Pictures of Abu Sayyaf leaders are released to media by the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
- May 31, 2001 – The military fails to locate the bandits and the hostages despite search and rescue operations in Jolo, Basilan and Cagayan de Tawi-Tawi.
- June 1, 2001 – Military troops engage Abu Sayyaf bandits in Tuburan town in Basilan. ASG spokesman Abu Sabaya threatens to behead two of the hostages.
- June 2, 2001 – ASG troops invade Lamitan town and seize the Jose Maria Torres Memorial Hospital and the Saint Peter’s church. Soldiers surround the bandits and engage them in a day-long firefight. Several hostages, including businessman Reghis Romero, were able to escape. Witnesses say the bandits escape from Lamitan at around 5:30 in the afternoon, taking four medical personnel from the hospital.
- June 3, 2001 – Soldiers recover the bodies of hostages Sonny Dacquer and Armando Bayona in Barangay Bulanting. They were beheaded.
- June 4, 2001 – Military officials ask for a state of emergency in Basilan. President Arroyo turns the request down.
- June 5, 2001 – At least 16 soldiers are reported killed and 44 others wounded during a firefight between government troops and Abu Sayyaf bandits in Mount Sinangkapan in Tuburan town. President Arroyo promises P5 million to the family of retired Col. Fernando Bajet for killing ASG chieftain Abu Sulayman alias Kumander Yusuf, last June 2. ASG leaders contact a government designated intermediary for possible negotiations.
- June 6, 2001 – ASG leader Abu Sabaya tells Radio Mindanao Network that US hostage Martin Burnham sustained a gunshot wound on the back during a recent exchange of gunfire with government troops. AFP officials clear the Moro Islamic Liberation Front of helping the Abu Sayyaf. The Commission on Human Rights dispatches a team to investigate alleged human rights violations in Basilan.
- June 7, 2001 – Government troops and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) integrees capture an ASG stronghold in Sitio Kalbatong, Panlima Estino town in Jolo. ASG leader Abu Sabaya threatens to kill three American hostages if government refuses to allow Malaysian nationals to negotiate for the release of hostages. President Arroyo awards P1 million to the widow of slain retired Col. Fernando Bajet.
- June 8, 2001 – Rumors abound that the bandits are negotiating for the release of Hector Janjalani, elder brother of ASG chief Khaddafy Janjalani, in exchange for the release of ailing American hostage Guillermo Sobero. National Security Adviser Roilo Golez denies the rumors. Three FBI agents start information-gathering operation in coordination with Philippine military.
- June 9, 2001 – Army Lt. Gene Kenneth Bulong, who died in a firefight with the Abu Sayyaf in Lamitan, Basilan, is laid to rest with full military honors. Two suspected ASG bandits are killed by the Philippine Army’s 103rd Infantry Brigade in Barangay Maligi, Isabela, Basilan.
- June 10, 2001 – Libyan President Muammar Khadafi offers to help negotiate with the Abu Sayyaf.
- June 11, 2001 – Fifteen people, mostly coconut plantation workers, are taken hostage by ASG bandits in Lantawan town after the bandits burned at least five houses and a Catholic chapel. ASG defers the beheading of three American hostages after government agrees to let a Malaysian envoy negotiate for the hostages. Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issues a travel advisory barring nationals from touring Mindanao and Palawan.
- June 12, 2001 – ASG leader Abu Sabaya announces the beheading of American Guillermo Sobero “as a gift to the country on (its) Independence Day.” Military refuses to confirm the report. President Arroyo calls for an emergency meeting and denounces the bandits’ acts as “ruthless and cowardly.” A decapitated body is found in Tipo-Tipo town in Basilan. Local officials quickly identify the corpse as that of a certain Udstadz Mohaymin Saji, not Peruvian-American hostage Guillermo Sobero.
- June 13, 2001 – Military officials claim Guillermo execution was a bluff. Abu Sayyaf bandits launch recruitment drive in Basilan, offering P30,000 and arms to residents.
- June 16, 2001 – Three Filipino hostages are released.
- June 18, 2001 – President Arroyo visits Basilan and says she will not offer any ransom.
- June 22, 2001 – Three severed heads are found. They are reported to belong to Philippine soldiers.
- June 23, 2001 – Two headless bodies have been identified as belonging to Filipino plantation workers kidnapped earlier in June.
- June 28, 2001 – Philippine security officials say they have captured one senior member of the Abu Sayyaf guerilla group and a second who was allegedly on a mission to set up terrorist operations in Manila.
- July 3, 2001 – The Abu Sayyaf frees two Filipino hostages.
- July 9, 2001 – Police arrest Abu Sayyaf top leader, “Commander Global”, along with three other members of the group.
- Oct. 15, 2001 – Abu Sayyaf admit links with international terrorist group Al-Qaeda.
- Dec. 2001 – A group of United States military advisers arrive in Southern Philippines. “Balikatan 02,” a joint military exercise between U.S. and Philippines troops, is launched.
- Jan. 2002 – Some 660 U.S. troops arrive in the Philippines to take part in the exercises. The U.S. troops are prevented from taking part in actual military operations and will only provide training and logistical support.
- March 25, 2002 – The Philippine military rejects an offer from Abu Sayyaf rebels to release a hostage in exchange for a temporary cease-fire and medical care for one of its commanders.
- May 1, 2002 – Abu Sayyaf threatens to kill two Americans it is holding hostage after the government’s refusal earlier to negotiate.
- May 29, 2002 – The United States offers a reward of up to $5 million for the arrest or conviction of five leaders of the Abu Sayyaf.
- June 7, 2002 – A Filipina nurse, Deborah Yap, and a U.S. missionary, Martin Burnham, held hostage by Muslim rebels for more than a year, are killed during a rescue attempt. The final kidnap victim, Martin’s wife, Gracia, is wounded but survives and is freed.
From BelmontClub blog
American hostage Guillermo Sobero was beheaded by the Abu Sayyaf in a macabre ceremony called ‘ribbon-cutting’, according to a source close to the hostage takers. The incident allegedly took place in the town of Tuburan, in Basilan, southern Philippines on June 11. “The beheading ceremony was mentioned by Abu Sayyaf leader Khadafi Janjalani in a letter sent recently through a freed hostage to the presidential palace,” said Hector Janjalani, Khadafi’s younger brother, who has been imprisoned in Quezon City since last year. “The ribbon cutting ceremony is a term often used by the group for the beheading of hostages,” explained the younger Janjalani. Armed Forces Spokesman Brig. Gen. Edilberto Adan said the government has tasked volunteers and local government officials with locating Sobero’s headless corpse.