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MANILA, Philippines – Australian Warren Richard Rodwell, abducted last Dec. 5, 2011, in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay, appeals for help in a video recording sent by his captors to his wife.
Rodwell said his captors are asking for US$2 million in ransom. “To my family, please do whatever to raise the 2 million US dollars they are asking for my release as soon as possible.”
Rappler obtained the video from government authorities.
The Australian looked gaunt, his eyes tired and unfocused. He delivered his message, which he appeared to be reading, in halting words. Occasionally he would choke on his words, overcome with emotion.
A former Australian soldier, Rodwell seemed to be addressing an unspoken question on whether he was fit to escape his abductors. “I was former army of my country but it is different here, particularly the terrain. The only solution to ensure my safety is to go with whatever they need.”
“To the Australian Embassy here in the Philippines, this is your constituency appealing for his life… My last wish is please help me out of here alive, please Madame Ambassador.”
Army officials said they believe the Abu Sayyaf is behind the abduction. They added that pictures sent to his wife show Rodwell with a wound on his right hand.
Intelligence sources tell Rappler he may have been kidnapped by rogue members of the MILF, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which is in the middle of peace negotiations with the Philippine government. On Wednesday, however, army officials said they believe he may have been handed to members of the Abu Sayyaf.
When it was first formed in the early 90’s, the Abu Sayyaf received funding and support from Al-Qaeda. Osama bin Laden’s brother-in-law funded it, and a terrorist cell which included the 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and his nephew, Ramzi Yousef, trained its members.
Since then the group has swung from ideologically driven acts of terrorism to crime, turning kidnap for ransom into a cottage industry. The military has often dismissed it as a bandit group.
Rodwell, 53, was seized at gunpoint from his home last Dec. 5, 2011. Reports say he was shot in the foot trying to fight off the abductors. We featured him in an earlier story.
Rodwell, 53, is married to a Filipina he met on the internet. Rodwell describes himself as an adventurer and hosts several travel blogs and websites. He took up residence in Ipil in 2011. – Rappler