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Rebels Want $10 Million for American

ByABC News
September 1, 2000, 7:22 PM

Z A M B O A N G A, Philippines, Sept. 1 -- Muslim rebels who threatened to behead an American man kidnapped in the southern Philippines have demanded $10 million for his release, negotiators said today.

The U.S. State Department, however, has ruled out paying ransom to the Abu Sayyaf rebels for the release of Jeffrey Schilling, 24, of Oakland, Calif., who was abducted Sunday.

Despite their threats to behead Schilling, the rebels pledged not to harm him while negotiations continue. They asked that food and medicine be sent for Schilling, who U.S. officials say has serious health problems.

But an emissary who visited the rebels camp on Jolo island reported that Schilling had been tied up after resisting captivity.The report could not be verified.

You must send today medicine and food because you know this American doesnt eat cassava, rebel spokesman Abu Sabaya told newly appointed negotiator Roland Sarmiento. Cassava is a root eaten by poor Filipinos.

The two spoke in a telephone conversation broadcast over the Radio Mindanao Network.

One American Worth 10 Europeans

The Abu Sayyaf group, which says it is fighting for an Islamic state in the southern Philippines, is still holding six other foreigners and 12 Filipinos after freeing six Westerners earlierthis week for a reported $6 million bankrolled by Libya.

Sabaya made the $10 million ransom demand Thursday night, a member of the negotiating team said. He had earlier said that oneAmerican is worth 10 Europeans in ransom.

Sabaya did not repeat the $10 million demand today, but asked for the inclusion in the negotiations of Lee Peng Wee, a businessman who helped arrange about $4.5 million in ransom reportedly paid for the earlier release of nine Malaysians.

The request for Lees involvement suggests that the rebels plan to follow a similar approach with Schillings kidnapping in which aransom would be paid by third parties, allowing the U.S. government to maintain its official no-ransom policy.