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U.S. Charges Abu Sayyaf Members in Missionary’s Death

BY Admin  July 23, 2002 at 4:25 PM EST

Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson released a five-count indictment alleging the group masterminded the May 2001 kidnappings of three Americans and 17 others in the Philippines.

“The United States sends a signal: We will work to track down and prosecute all those who commit barbaric acts of terrorism here at home and abroad,” Thompson said.

American missionary Martin Burnham of Wichita, Kansas and Filipino nurse Deborah Yap were killed June 7 when a gun battle erupted between the militant group and Philippine troops attempting to rescue the hostages. Burnham’s wife, Gracia was wounded.

Thompson said the rebels “brutally beheaded” the third American captive, Guillermo Sobero of Corona, California, last June.

Federal indictments identify the five men as Khadafi Abubakar Janjalani, Isnilon Totoni Hapilon, Aldam Tilao, Jainal Antel Sali Jr. and Hamsiraji Marusi Sali. They stand charged with conspiracy resulting in death, hostage-taking and three counts of hostage-taking resulting in death.

President Bush ordered nearly 1,000 U.S. troops to the Philippines earlier this year to help train members of the country’s armed forces to combat the terrorist group, which has waged violent attacks in the Philippines for years.