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SABAH KIDNAPPING: Abu Sayyaf - the ghost that haunts eastern Sabah paradise
Publication Date : 05-04-2014
In the Sipadan incident on April 23, 2000, armed men landed in a speedboat at a resort off the eastern coast of Sabah.
Numbering about six, the men abducted 21 people from the dining area of the resort during dinner time.
The victims were three Germans, two French, two Finns, a Lebanese, and two South Africans, as well as nine Malaysians and two Filipinos.
All were taken to Jolo Island in southern Philippines as captives of the Abu Sayyaf militants led by Galib Andang, nicknamed “Commander Robot”.
The kidnappers had demanded millions in US dollars for their release.
They had also reportedly insisted that the US Government set free three Arabs held in connection with the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York.
Mediations with the Abu Sayyaf took place over the next few months, during which time a Filipino evangelist and his prayer group, as well as a German journalist and a French TV crew were abducted by the militants.
Commander Robot released the victims piecemeal as ransoms were paid over the months, including through one deal arranged by the then Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi.
The evangelical group and two French journalists were freed when the Philippine military launched an offensive against the Abu Sayyaf on Jolo Island on Sept 16, 2000.
The final captive, a Filipino, only gained his freedom in 2003.