WIKIPEDIA : Warren R Rodwell



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Warren Richard Rodwell (born Homebush NSW)[75] a former soldier[76] in the Australian Army, and university English teacher,[77] grew up in Tamworth NSW[78] He was shot through the right hand when seized[79] from his home at Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugayon the island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines on 5 December 2011[80] by Abu Sayyaf (ASG) militants.[81] Rodwell later had to have a finger amputated.[82]

The ASG threatened to behead Rodwell[83] if the original ransom demand for $US2 million was not paid.[84] Both the Philippine and Australian governments had strict policies of refusing to pay ransoms.[85] Australia formed a multi-agency task force to assist the Philippine authorities, and liaise with Rodwell’s family.[86] A news blackout was imposed.[87] Filipino politicians helped negotiate the release.[88] After the payment of $AUD94,000[89] for “board and lodging” expenses[90] by his siblings, Rodwell was released 472 days later on 23 March 2013.[91] The incumbent Australian prime minister praised the Philippines government for securing Rodwell’s release. Tribute was also made to Australian officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Australian Federal Police and Defence.[92] Rodwell subsequently returned to Australia.[93]

As part of the 2015 Australia Day Honours, Australian Army Lieutenant Colonel Paul Joseph Barta was awarded the Conspicuous Service Cross (CSC) for outstanding devotion to duty as the Assistant Defence Attaché Manila during the Australian whole of government response to the Rodwell kidnap for ransom (and immediately following, the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan). At the 2015 Australian Federal Police Foundation Day award ceremony in Canberra, fourteen AFP members received the Commissioners’ Group Citation for Conspicuous Conduct for their work in support of the Philippine National Police and Australian Government efforts to release Australian man Warren Rodwell.[94]

Warren Rodwell

By the end of his 15 months as a hostage in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Rodwell had lost about 30 kilograms in weight due to starvation,[95] His biography 472 Days Captive of the Abu Sayyaf – The Survival of Australian Warren Rodwell by independent researcher Dr Robert (Bob) East was published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing, United Kingdom (2015) ISBN 1-4438-7058-7[96] In popular culture, Blue Mountains (Sydney) techno Cowpunk band Mad Cowboy Disease composed, performed and released songs written by Rodwell, based on his ordeal ; Situation Not Normal [97] and Our Sibling Hearts [98]

Award-winning Filipino journalist and CEO of Rappler,[99] Maria A. Ressa wrote at some length about the Warren Rodwell case in the 2013 international edition of her Imperial College Press – published book From Bin Laden to Facebook: 10 Days of Abduction, 10 Years of Terrorism ISBN 978-1-908979-53-7 [100] (Refer to Pages 265 – 271) Crowdsourcing for ransom, and social media (such as, Facebook and YouTube) were used by Abu Sayyaf during negotiations. The author asserts on Page 270; “Social media is changing what was once a closed dialogue between kidnappers, their victims and governments.”

Also, Colonel (reserve) in the Israel Defence Forces and research fellow at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT), Dr Shaul Shay, analysed the Warren Rodwell terror abduction in: Global Jihad and The Tactic of Terror Abduction : A Comprehensive Review of Islamic Terrorist Organisations. ISBN 978-1-84519-611-0 (Refer to Chapter 10) (Sussex Academic Press).[101]

Warren Rodwell

In January 2015, Mindanao Examiner newspaper reported the arrest of Barahama Ali[102] kidnap gang sub-leaders linked to the kidnapping of Warren Rodwell, who was seized by at least 5 gunmen (disguised as policemen), and eventually handed over or sold by the kidnappers to the Abu Sayyaf in Basilan province.[103]

In May 2015, ex-Philippine National Police (PNP) officer Jun A. Malban was arrested in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia for the crime of “Kidnapping for Ransom” after Rodwell identified him as the negotiator/spokesperson of the Abu Sayyaf Group during his captivity. Further PNP investigation revealed that Malban is the cousin of Abu Sayyaf leaders Khair Mundos and his brother Borhan Mundos. (Both were arrested in 2014).[104] The director of the Anti-Kidnapping Group (AKG) stated that Malban’s arrest resulted from close co-ordination by the PNP, National Bureau of Investigation (Philippines) and Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission with the Malaysian counterparts and through Interpol.[105]

In August 2015, Edeliza Sumbahon Ulep,[106] alias Gina Perez, was arrested at Trento, Agusan del Sur during a joint manhunt operation by police and military units. Ulep was tagged as the ransom courier of the Abu Sayyaf bandits in Zamboanga Sibugay in the kidnapping of Rodwell.[107]

In August 2016, The Manila Times reported the arrest of the kidnap-for-ransom group of Barahama Alih sub-leader, Hasim Calon alias Husien (also a notorious drug dealer), in his hideout in Tenan village in Ipil town. Hasim Calon was involved in Rodwell’s abduction. Earlier in 2016, police forces killed Waning Abdulsalam, a former MILF leader, in the village of Singkilon. Abdulsalam was one of the most wanted criminals in the southern Philippines, and connected to ASG. He was linked to the kidnappings of Rodwell in 2011, Irish missionary Michael Sinnott in 2009 in Pagadian City, and Italian Catholic priest Giancarlo Bossi in Zamboanga del Sur’s Payao town in 2007.[155] 

In March 2019, combined security forces of the 44th Infantry Battalion, Philippine National Police, Philippine Drugs Enforcement Agency, National Bureau of Investigation and Philippine Coast Guard arrested five members (Benhazer Anduhol, Solaiman Calonof, Nicanel Maningo, Jay-ar Abba Quartocruz and Hashim Lucas Samdani) of Barahama Alih criminal gang during drug operations with warrants in Barangay Tenan of Ipil town, Zamboanga Sibugay. Military sources allege Barahama Alih Group was responsible for a number of kidnapping incidents in previous years including the abduction of Australian national Warren Rodwell, Italian priest Giancarlo Bossi and some local Filipinos.[156]

In February 2018, Abu Sayyaf sub-commander Nurhassan Jamiri was reported by Malaysia regional intelligence sources as one of three gunmen killed in a gunfight with police in Sabah. Jamiri was atop the Philippines’ most wanted list and implicated in dozens of ransom kidnappings including Rodwell.[157][158] In March 2018, Jamiri turned up alive when he and thirteen followers surrendered to authorities in Basilan. Over the preceding two years, many Abu Sayyaf bandits had surrendered to authorities in Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi. More were expected to yield because of the regional government’s Program Against Violence and Extremism (PAVE), designed to provide opportunities and interventions, including psychosocial sessions, medical check-ups, introduction to farming systems, and expository tours outside the island provinces to facilitate the reintegration of former combatants into society.[159] In April 2018, Rodwell lauded the surrenders and reintegration program, but said he would not interfere with the legal processing of any charges already filed against anyone involved with his own kidnapping.[160]