LONDON – An Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant-affiliated group in the Philippines posted a video Monday purporting to show the beheading of a 71-year-old German hostage after a deadline for his ransom had expired, a monitoring group reported.
The SITE Intelligence Group said the video was posted by the Abu Sayyaf militant group on its Telegram social media account and follows Sunday's deadline for about $600,000 in ransom.
The authenticity of the video could not be confirmed independently. But the Abu Sayyaf faction has carried out previous beheadings of captives, and the video brought a swift condemnation from authorities in the Philippines.
"We grieve as we strongly condemn the barbaric beheading of yet another kidnap victim," said Jesus Dureza, an adviser to Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte.
The latest video shows a sitting, confused Jurgen Kantner surrounded by armed men. He then says, "they kill me now" and a man with a curved knife then abruptly saws his head off. The severed head is displayed for the camera.
Several rebels, masked and wearing camouflage, appear in the video.
Kantner last appeared in a video on Feb. 14 when the Abu Sayyaf militants demanded the ransom and threatened to kill him if their demands were not met.
Kantner was seized by the rebels in November, sailing along the coast of the southern Philippines. His wife, Sabine Merz, was killed in the assault on their 53-foot yacht, Rockall.
Abu Sayyaf militants told local media that Merz was killed after she opened fire on them trying to defend the boat.
In Germany, Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer said German forensic experts were evaluating the video. But he called the slaying "deeply shocking" if proven true.
Merz and Kantner were previously kidnapped by Somali pirates in 2008 and held for nearly two months before a ransom was paid.
Last April, the severed head of a 68-year-old Canadian held by Abu Sayyaf was left on a street in the southern Philippines, five hours after a ransom deadline.
Abu Sayyaf has taken hostages for decades — and killed captives — as part of a rebellion it has claimed to be waging on behalf of the Muslim minority in the predominantly Roman Catholic nation. The Philippine government has denounced Abu Sayyaf as a terrorist organization that also operates more like a criminal gang, engaging in kidnapping for ransom, extortion and drug trafficking, among other crimes.
In November 2015, Abu Sayyaf militants decapitated a Malaysian hostage on the same day that the Malaysian prime minister arrived in Manila for a summit.
Abu Sayyaf — a collection of militant splinter groups — has been weakened by expanded military and police operations over the past decade, but it retains footholds in jungle hideouts used as bases for sporadic attacks and kidnappings. The group had claimed an alliance with Al-Qaida, but it recently publicly proclaimed allegiance to the Islamic State.
The group, which is holding more than 20 foreign captives, has increasingly turned to kidnap and ransom to raise funds.
A kidnapped German couple was released in 2014 after a reported ransom of $5.1 million.
The Philippine military issued a defiant statement Monday that their current assault against the group would not be deterred by threats to kill Kantner.
"Deadline or no deadline, troops are exerting all effort and means in order to go after the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf and to rescue all kidnap victims," said spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, in a statement reported by the Associated Press.
"The armed forces will pursue the enemy and dictate the terms, not the other way around."
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