Sep 132014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/04/09MANILA829.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09MANILA829
2009-04-20 07:56
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO3871
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #0829/01 1100756
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 200756Z APR 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3854
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA IMMEDIATE 2263
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 000829

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MTS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/19/2019
TAGS: MARR MOPS PGOV PREL RP
SUBJECT: SWISS RED CROSS HOSTAGE GAINS FREEDOM FROM ABU SAYYAF CAPTORS

REF: A. MANILA 0812
¶B. MANILA 0727
¶C. MANILA 0717

Classified By: Ambassador Kristie A. Kenney, Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

¶1. (C) SUMMARY: The second of three International Committee
of the Red Cross (ICRC) workers kidnapped January 15 on Jolo
island in the southern Philippines by Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG)
terrorists made his way to freedom early Saturday morning,
April 18. Initial reports indicate he escaped from his
captors during the night, but subsequent media reports
claimed he was intentionally released by his captors or
rescued by Philippine military and police. Mr. Notter met
with ICRC officials in Jolo and was then flown to Davao city
in an aircraft operated by the Joint Special Operations Task
Force Philippines (JSOTF-P). Muslim clerics are reportedly
continuing efforts to obtain the release of the remaining
ICRC hostage, Italian national Eugenio Vagni, while the AFP
and police seek to tighten a security cordon of military and
police around the ASG. Post is continuing to monitor the
situation and is working to provide logistical and
intelligence support requested by the Philippine government.
The ICRC Mission head in the Philippines spoke with
Ambassador to convey appreciation for rapid USG logistical
assistance after the release. END SUMMARY.

—————————————-
CONFLICTING ACCOUNTS OF HOSTAGE’S ESCAPE
—————————————-

¶2. (C) JSOTF-P reported that ICRC hostage, Andreas Notter,
escaped April 18 from his Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) kidnappers.
During a night movement, Notter reportedly became separated
from his guards and hid for several hours before making his
way to a road where he found an unmanned AFP checkpoint. He
waited there until sunrise and then walked to a nearby town
where Civilian Volunteer Organization (CVO) members took him
to Sulu Governor Tan’s residence at approximately 7:30 a.m.
After his meeting with Red Cross officers, JSOTF-P
transported Notter to Davao city, and medical personnel
examined him enroute. Notter was not able to provide U.S.
forces with any clarity on the circumstances of his release.

¶3. (C) Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno told reporters that
the kidnappers scattered on Friday when Philippine marines
moved toward the ASG encampment near the town of Indanan on
Jolo island. What transpired after that is a matter of some
confusion. Secretary of National Defense Gilbert Teodoro
said that police and armed villagers found Notter walking
along a road after he had either escaped or had been
abandoned by his captors. Another account reports that
Notter was rescued when his kidnappers were intercepted as
they tried to slip through the cordon of military and police,
ringing their hideout.

¶4. (C) ICRC Mission head Jean-Daniel Tauxe told Ambassador
that Notter “got lost” while following his ASG captors, and
then walked until he found sympathetic civilians. Tauxe said
Notter appeared disoriented after his release — perhaps
because the ASG and their captives were constantly on the
move. Tauxe added that Notter was physically exhausted and
appeared to be suffering from “Stockholm Syndrome” in not
wanting to offer details of his captors for fear of revealing
their location. Regardless of whether he escaped, was
abandoned, or was rescued, Mr. Notter gained his freedom
without the use of force. The Philippine government has
stated that no ransom was paid. However, local media, citing
unnamed sources, report that the government secretly paid a
one million Peso (approximately $21,000 USD) ransom for the
April 2 release of Filipino hostage Mary Jean Lacaba,
although the government has publicly denied that any ransom
was paid.

————————————-
WORKING TO FREE THE REMAINING HOSTAGE
————————————-

¶5. (C) With two of the former hostages now free, 62-year-old
Italian Eugenio Vagni remains the sole ICRC worker in the
hands of the Abu Sayyaf terrorists. Prior to the weekend,
five Ulama (Muslim clerics) met with Vagni’s captors and by
some reports had gained permission to pass medicines to
Vagni, who is reportedly in great pain and suffering from a
hernia and hypertension. Secretary Teodoro said the
Philippine government is “moving with a sense of immediacy
and intensifying our efforts to secure his freedom as soon as

MANILA 00000829 002 OF 002

possible.” The Philippine government claims it has more than
1,000 members of the AFP, police, and armed village guards
surrounding the kidnappers’ stronghold, and JSOTF-P is
continuing to support Task Force Comet in their pursuit of
three different ASG groups, including the one that human
intelligence sources report contains kidnapping mastermind
Albadar Parad and the final hostage, Eugenio Vagni. In
response to a request from the AFP, Mission is working with
U.S. 7th Fleet to have a P-3 Orion fly reconnaissance
missions over the area to help the AFP locate and track the
kidnappers.

¶6. (C) COMMENT: As reported in reftels, the Philippine
government continues to take a more cautious and disciplined
approach to resolve this hostage situation. With Mr.
Notter’s escape – or release – the military option may have
receded further into the background, giving the Philippine
government more time to pursue a negotiated solution. At the
same time, this kidnapping for ransom underscores the need to
redouble efforts to eliminate the ASG once the third hostage
is released. The Ambassador has repeatedly emphasized to her
Philippine interlocutors U.S. concern for the hostages’
safety and the USG’s key role in supporting the ICRC. END
COMMENT.
KENNEY

   

 

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