Friday, December 28, 2012

Philippines: New Video Clip Confirms that Kidnapped Australian Warren Rodwell Fatigued, Gaunt, Emotionally Weakened

The release of new video footage showing Australian hostage Warren Rodwell, 54, alive, albeit fatigued and strained, is a positive sign, after being kidnapped from the small town of Ipil on December 5, 2011, well over a year ago.

The regional terror group, Abu Sayyaf, has demanded $2 million for the return of Rodwell.

COMMENT: It needs to be acknowledged that the Australian government has had a no-ransom policy applied to Australian citizens for many years.

That being said, it is unlikely that Mr. Rodwell or his family have the financial resources to pay such a substantial ransom demand.

Considering that the Muslim group has invested a year in keeping Rodwell healthy and well, all the while moving him frequently to avoid government patrols, it is unlikely that Abu Sayyaf is going to turn Rodwell over for a fraction of their stated ransom demand.

Although some experts have advised the Australian government to emphasize with Abu Sayyaf the amount of foreign assistance funds that the Australians have been provided to Mindanao and the Islamic south in recent years, it is unlikely that such a strategy is going to make the group feel "soft and fuzzy."

From a lessons-learned standpoint it is important to emphasize that Rodwell seemingly made choices which influenced his being kidnapped to begin with:
  1. He declined personal protection offered to him by local police; 
  2. In violation of the Australian government's travel warning to its citizens to avoid travel to the Muslim south, Rodwell ignored such advice;
  3. Rodwell overestimated his ability to defend himself against kidnappers, thinking a pistol would be sufficient against experienced gunmen armed with assault rifles;
  4.  As a result, when Rodwell was kidnapped, he resisted and was superficially shot; and
  5. Rodwell failed to realize his value as kidnap target while at the same time not having the family resources to secure his release.
The latest video clip released by Rodwell's captors depict the Australian as looking fatigued, gaunt and psychologically exasperated. 

In the two-minute clip, clutching a local newspaper dated December 15, Rodwell is quoted as saying, ''I do not trust the Abu Sayyaf, I do not trust the Australian government,'' he said. ''I just don't trust anyone. Personally, I don't care.''

In the end, tourists and travelers of all nations must comply with the travel warnings released by their governments.