Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Australian, 53, Kidnapped in Southern Philippines, Evidence of Injury

Philippine security forces have discovered bloodstains at the scene where Australian citizen Warren Richard Rodwell, 53, was kidnapped late on Monday (December 5) by suspected Muslim militants. Mr. Rodwell was abducted by half a dozen gunmen less than two miles from the shore in Ipil town in Zamboanga Sibugay province.

It is likely that the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group is behind the abduction. Ironically, Rodwell was kidnapped from the same area in Ipil where the militants seized a Filipino businesswoman in September and took her by boat to their jungle stronghold on nearby Basilan Island. She was wounded in a rescue operation two weeks later.

COMMENT: The large number of kidnappings of late are a good indication that Abu Sayyaf is strapped for cash. Last year the group carried out at least eleven kidnappings and raised roughly $704,000 in ransom. Tragically, they killed at least six hostages whose families could not meet their ransom demands. Abu Sayyaf is believed to be holding several other hostages, including an American teenager kidnapped in July. His Filipino-American mother, a Virginia resident and dentist, was released in October.

Unfortunately, Abu Sayyaf has excellent local intelligence provided by sympathizers to the group particularly when a foreigner suddenly appears in the area. Despite it being common knowledge that foreigners are at the top of the group's "To-Do List," Rodwell made several trips to the Philippines over the last two years and was staying in Ipil after getting married in June to a Filipino who he met on the Internet.

As I've mentioned a number of times in the past, it is STRONGLY DISCOURAGED that kidnap victims resist kidnappers when confronted with armed superiority, as there have been cases where those targeted for kidnapping have been summarily killed when they resist.

This report will be updated as information becomes available.

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