Veteran Middle Eastern TV reporter Baker Atyani missing in Philippines
Friday 15 June 2012
A veteran Middle Eastern TV reporter who had interviewed Osama bin Laden months before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks has disappeared with four other people on a restive southern Philippine island where Muslim militants are active, officials said today.
Baker Atyani, Al-Arabiya's TV bureau chief for Southeast Asia, has not contacted authorities since Tuesday, when he was last seen on Jolo Island while on a reporting trip, said Sulu provincial police chief Antonio Freyra.
Also missing are two Manila-based TV crewmen, a local female guide and the driver of the journalists' van, Freyra said.
Authorities were trying to verify unconfirmed reports that Atyani may have traveled to Jolo's mountainous jungles to seek an interview with Abu Sayyaf militants and some of their foreign hostages as part of a TV documentary on the southern Philippines, a military intelligence official told The Associated Press. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to reporters.
Atyani and his crew arrived Monday in Jolo, a hotbed of militants notorious for bomb attacks, kidnappings and beheadings about 950 kilometers (590 miles) south of Manila.
Freyra said the three men left their Jolo hostel early Tuesday and were picked up by a minivan. They failed to show up for Philippine Independence Day rites later that day despite telling officials they would cover the event.
"We don't know if he has been kidnapped. We don't know their objective here," Jolo Mayor Hussin Amin told the AP by phone. "He's been declared missing for now."
A Filipino TV reporter, Ces Drilon, was planning to interview leaders of the al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf group on Jolo in 2008 when the group held her ransom for 10 days.
The militants on Jolo are holding two Europeans and a Japanese. There are conflicting reports whether an Indian hostage has died in captivity.
Atyani, a 43-year-old Jordanian based in Jakarta, Indonesia, was working for the Arabic satellite channel Middle East Broadcasting Corp. in June 2001 when he met bin Laden and his aides in Afghanistan and said they told him that the coming weeks would hold "important surprises that will target American and Israeli interests in the world."
He later moved to Dubai-based Al-Arabiya TV as its Asia bureau chief.
Abu Sayyaf militants have launched more attacks in the last four years despite U.S.-backed offensives on Jolo and neighboring islands. Authorities have failed to cut off a flow of money, food and weapons to the terrorists, the Philippine military said in a recent report.
The Abu Sayyaf is a more radical offshoot of a Muslim rebellion that has been raging in the predominantly Catholic nation's south for decades. The violence is fueled by abject poverty, corruption and proliferation of weapons.
- 1 Howard Jacobson: Let's see the 'criticism' of Israel for what it really is
- 3 Belgium fan Axelle Despiegelaere lands L'Oreal campaign after World Cup viral photo
- 4 Britney Spears sings 'Alien' without Auto-Tune in embarrassing leaked audio clip
- 5 PornHub begs users to stop uploading video clips of Brazil getting beaten 7-1
Instagram of US airport security chiefs: Lipstick knives and IED training kits among items seized
Game of Thrones author George RR Martin says 'f*** you' to fans who fear he will die before finishing Westeros saga
Mick Jagger denies being World Cup curse and reason for Brazil’s embarrassing defeat
Israel-Gaza crisis: ‘We just want it to end… We don’t deserve to live like this’
Israel-Gaza crisis: Eight killed in Gaza Strip cafe while watching World Cup semi-final
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
Australia facing international condemnation after turning around Sri Lankans at sea
7/7 memorial defaced on anniversary of 2005 attacks with ‘Blair lied thousands died’ graffiti
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
Socialist Worker called to apologise over ‘vile’ article saying Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple's death is ‘reason to save the polar bears’
There’s a nasty smell in the political air – and it’s coming from the Tories
competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A key client in the East Midlands are re...
£21000 - £31000 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: The JobWe are looking ...
£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: The Job...Due to continued ...
£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Supply TeachersWould you l...