Philippines militant group Abu Sayyaf has threatened to kill Australian hostage Warren Rodwell unless a ransom is paid, in a message accompanying the latest proof-of-life photo.
The image of an emaciated Mr Rodwell, who grew up and went to school in Tamworth, appeared on Facebook on Tuesday along with the threatening message addressed to the Australian government, sent by the group al-Harakat al-Islamiyyah, which is another name for Abu Sayyaf.
The former soldier from Sydney has been held in the southern Philippines by kidnappers believed to be part of the radical Islamist group since December 5, 2011. In the latest image, Mr Rodwell is holding an edition of the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper dated January 25.
The message posted with the image states: “To the Australian government ... we officially inform you that your citizen Warren Rodwell is in our custody and control ... and now facing Islamic
shariah. If you have concerned with your men, we will give you a chance to save his life before it’s too late, as soon as possible time, otherwise he will suffer unusual way of Death.’’
The group said it had been holding him since he was kidnapped more than a year ago from his home in the southern Philippine island of Mindanao.
Foreign Minister Bob Carr said on ABC radio yesterday morning that the Australian government was working with the Philippines government, which was taking the lead on handling the case.
He said he had spoken to Mr Rodwell’s sister, but declined to say more because of the fragility of the situation.
Mr Rodwell has said in previous videos he was being held by Abu Sayyaf, though the Australian government has never confirmed this is the case. There are a number of criminal gangs operating in the southern Philippines as well as militants.
The statement posted on Tuesday said “to our brothers in Islam we would like to make it clear that our activities like this are not for personal interests or just to gain money for personal use’’.
Rather, it stated, “whatever we gain from this war is to be used for our future operations and other necessities’’ in what it called its “war against the forces of shaytan in the Philippines’’.