Archive for Friday, September 27, 2002

Philippines extremist says missionary was sacrificed

September 27, 2002

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— A man claiming to be the head of the Muslim extremist group Abu Sayyaf alleges the Philippines sacrificed the life of a U.S. missionary in the name of the war on terrorism.

The taped message from Khadafi Janjalani was played Friday by Radio Mindanao Network during a program hosted by journalist Arlyn de la Cruz, who is known to have close ties with the leader of the al-Qaida-linked group.

De la Cruz said Janjalani was reacting to a New York Times story saying a $300,000 ransom for Martin and Gracia Burnham, held for a year as part of a mass kidnapping, was delivered to the Abu Sayyaf. The article said, however, that the money was turned over to a faction of the group that did not control the captives.

Janjalani, among five Abu Sayyaf leaders indicted by the United States for kidnapping and the deaths of hostages, did not confirm or deny the ransom payment but said he decided to speak because "our group is being blamed for not keeping our end of a certain bargain."

He claimed the Philippine government wrote off the Burnhams "to advance their political and economic interests" and to "justify their so-called war on terrorism."

He also said the group's demand for the withdrawal of all religious activities in the country by the New Tribes Mission, the Christian group to which the Wichita, Kan., natives belonged, was not met.

The government has said military offensives have decimated the Abu Sayyaf, but Janjalani claimed the group remains "as strong and united as ever."

The Abu Sayyaf seized 102 hostages, including three Americans, in a yearlong kidnapping spree that ended in June.

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