Militant group beheads German in Philippines

German nationals Jurgen Kantner and his wife Sabine Merz pictured in Berbera, Somalia, on May 5, 2009. (Photo by AFP)The Philippines-based ultra-violent Abu Sayyaf Takfiri terrorist group has decapitated a German hostage after a deadline for a ransom expired, drawing strong condemnation from Manila for the “barbaric beheading.”

A short video posted online on Monday by the Takfiri group and circulated by the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors terrorist groups, showed German national Jurgen Gustav Kantner kneeling on a grassy clearing and saying “Now he kills me,” a few moments before a masked machete-wielding terrorist decapitated the elderly man.

The Abu Sayyaf terrorists assaulted Kantner and his wife Sabine Merz when they were sailing on a 53-footer yacht near Sabah, in eastern Malaysia. They shot dead Merz as she resisted the abduction but kidnapped Kantner and took him to Jolo, a volcanic island in southwestern Philippines, which also serves as the stronghold of the Takfiri group.

Since then the German had appeared in two videos, appealing for help, saying he would be killed if the set ransom – 30 million pesos ($600,000) – was not paid. The militants had previously announced that they would spare 70-year-old Kantner if they were paid the money on Sunday.

The ill-fated couple had previously been abducted and held hostage by a militant group for over 50 days in Somalia in 2008 and were freed only after a huge ransom was paid.

Meanwhile, Jesus Dureza, the presidential adviser on the Philippine peace process, confirmed the death in a statement, saying officials had invested all efforts to save the German but to no avail.

“We grieve as we strongly condemn the barbaric beheading of yet another kidnap victim,” he said, adding, “Terrorism has no place in a country like ours and we as a people must confront violent extremism every time it rears its ugly head. There must be a stop to this killing of the innocent and the helpless.”

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