Monday, April 20, 2009

Andreas Notter: "Released" or "Rescued"?

There appear to be two contradictory descriptions of how Andreas Notter gained his freedom after more than three months as a hostage of an Abu Sayyaf Kidnap-for-ransom gang on Jolo Island in southern Philippines. Last Saturday, the Philippine Military claimed to have "rescued" the long-detained worker of the International Committee of the Red Cross who was abducted by the ASG on January 15 along with Filipino Mary Jean Lacaba and Italian Eugenio Vagni. But today, Senator Dick Gordon, the chairman of the Philippine National Red Cross controverted the statements of authorities and told a local radio program that the hostage was simply "released" and not "rescued."  ABSCBN News interviewed Notter immediately after he was "recovered" (the word used by the news report).  Sen. Gordon has come under fire for his behavior during the crisis, which has been marred by ugly disagreements with Defense Sec. Gilbert Teodoro and Interior Sec. Ronnie Puno over the disposition of military forces and other arrangements earlier in the ongoing crisis.   I am more inclined to agree that the use of the term "rescued" conveys the wrong impression that a lightning raid or other heroic rescue effort had been mounted.  On the other hand, there is reason to believe that the Abu Sayyaf group holding one more ICRC hostage has decided there will indeed be no ransom paid and are using the hostages to gain a means of escape with their high value terrorist cohorts (possibly including Dulmatin and Umar Patek of Bali Bombing infamy; Zulkifli ("Mawan") a high mucky-muck in the Jemaah Islamiyah; and the one-armed bandit-beheader, Radulan Sahiron.  The Philippine Military is right to bottle up the gang the remaining ICRC hostage, Eugenio Vagni, to force them to give him up in an attempt to escape.  The group is said to have split up the two hostages, then when the one holding Notter was encountered by a patrol, in the confusion the captors apparently ran away, leaving Notter to be "rescued" -- "released"--"recovered"--take your pick. I'm with Andreas--glad he's alive and safe now. 

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