Muslim extremist guerrillas on Monday renewed a threat to behead an American captive held in the southern Philippines, a senior aide to President Joseph Estrada told AFP.
Former chief hostage negotiator Robert Aventajado said Abu Sayyaf commander Abu Sabaya asked him to re-start negotiations for American Jeffrey Schilling, a 24-year-old tourist, who they abducted in August on southern Jolo island.
"He called me at about 10:00 this morning (0200 GMT). He asked for my help to start government negotiations, but I told him the president has already dismantled the negotiating team," Aventajado said.
"I told him 'let me se if I can do anything' and asked him to call me in two days," he said.
He said Sabaya told him he has also contacted a local television network for help and warned that his group would behead Schilling if the government did not negotiate for his release.
Aventajado said Sabaya told him the guerrillas have now slipped out of Jolo island and are on nearby Basilan island with Schilling, who was earlier reported to be suffering from various illnesses.
Angered by the Abu Sayyaf's kidnapping spree that has embarrassed his government, President Estrada in September ordered a massive military assault to rescue a group of 19 hostages that were still being held by the rebels at that time.
Two Frenchmen, 12 Filipino Christian preachers and three Malaysians have either been freed or rescued since then, leaving just two -- Schilling and Filipino divemaster Roland Ullah.
Ullah is the last of the Abu Sayyaf's original 21 captives seized from the Malaysian resort of Sipadan in April. The others were freed following negotiations spearheaded by Aventajado and brokered by the Libyan government.
Sources, however, have said the hostages were ransomed off for millions of dollars – MANILA (AFP)
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