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Abu Sayyaf head hacker surrenders

An investigator checks a headless body that was found in San Rafael, Isabela city in the southern Philippines last June. The body was one of dozens of hostages seized by the Abu Sayyaf in May, 2000
An investigator checks a headless body that was found in San Rafael, Isabela city in the southern Philippines last June. The body was one of dozens of hostages seized by the Abu Sayyaf in May, 2000  


By Rufi Vigilar

MANILA, Philippines (CNN) -- A man claiming to have beheaded captives of Abu Sayyaf guerrillas in the southern Philippines has surrendered to police.

The man gave himself up after seeing a videotape of alleged Abu Sayyaf beheadings on television, saying he was a former hostage forced to execute fellow captives or be beheaded himself.

The videotape was released by the Philippine government to the media on Monday, to drum up support for ongoing war games with U.S. troops aimed at eliminating the Abu Sayyaf in the guerrilla stronghold of Basilan, some 900 km (560 miles) south of Manila.

The tape, supposedly taken in 1995, showed two captives stripped to their shorts, kneeling, and asked to pray before a man raises a machete from behind and hacks their heads off.

A third captive is also seen sprawled on the ground and hacked several times.

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But Armed Forces spokesman General Edilberto Adan told CNN the man's testimony was "highly doubtful because [the beheader] did not flinch and was very deliberate."

"It's also possible he may be referring to another incident," Adan said, adding that the military will interrogate the self-confessed killer.

The military suspects the tape may have been used by the Abu Sayyaf to solicit funds from sympathizers of the separatist group abroad.

A Filipino overseas contract worker in the Middle East gave the videotape to the government, Adan said.

Doubts

A Philippine senator's claim regarding the contents of the videotape has raised more questions on its release by the government. The tape has been criticized because some believe its gory footage was unfit for general viewing.

Opposition senator Edgardo Angara said the videotape showed not Abu Sayyaf guerrillas but members of the larger Muslim separatist group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Angara said in a DZRH interview Thursday that the footage was used when he was still a member of the Estrada cabinet, to convince Catholic bishops to support the previous administration's all-out military offensive against the MILF.

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U.S. Special Forces and their Filipino counterparts on patrol in Isabela town, Basilan island  

General Adan said he could not recall any beheading that involved the MILF up to the time the videotape was supposedly taken.

But Adan added that the rebel group has been known to lend armed support to the Abu Sayyaf in recent years.

The Abu Sayyaf beheaded more than a dozen hostages last year, including American tourist Guillermo Sobero.

Linked by the U.S. government to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda terrorist network, the Abu Sayyaf have held hostage an American missionary couple and a Filipino nurse for more than eight months.

Joint-military exercises are being conducted by Philippine and U.S. troops in Basilan to speed up the rescue of the hostages and subdue the rebel group.



 
 
 
 





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