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TERRORISM

German sailor beheaded by Philippine Islamists

Islamic militants in the Philippines have beheaded the German hostage they were holding for ransom, the government in Manila said Monday.

German sailor beheaded by Philippine Islamists
Jürgen Kantner's sailing boat: Photo: DPA

A video posted by the extremist Abu Sayyaf group, which was monitored by intelligence group SITE, showed Jürgen Kantner being killed by a knife-wielding man.

Shortly after the video appeared, government envoy Jesus Dureza confirmed the German's death.

“We grieve as we strongly condemn the barbaric beheading of yet another kidnap victim,” Dureza said in a statement.

“Up to the last moment, many sectors including the Armed Forces of the Philippines exhausted all efforts to save his life. We all tried our best. But to no avail,” said Dureza.

Military officials in the south said they still had not yet found the German's body.

The Abu Sayyaf, blamed for the worst terror attacks in Philippine history, had previously demanded a ransom of 30 million pesos (€570,000) be paid by Sunday to spare the 70-year-old.

SEE ALSO: Formerly kidnapped German 'mad' for returning to Somalia

Kanter was abducted from his yacht, the Rockall, in waters off the southern Philippines last year.

The vessel was found drifting on November 7th, with the body of Kantner's female companion, Sabine Merz, bearing a gunshot wound.

The couple had previously been kidnapped and held for 52 days in Somalia in 2008 before they were freed, reportedly after a huge ransom was paid, press reports said.

The Abu Sayyaf, whose leaders have pledged allegiance to the Isis movement in the Middle East, have been kidnapping foreigners and Christians for decades, holding them for ransom in the jungles of the strife-torn southern Philippines.

They have frequently killed hostages if their demands are not met, and last year murdered two Canadians.

Aside from Kanter, they are now holding at least 19 foreigners and seven Filipino hostages, military spokesman Brigadier General Restituto Padilla said.

The group, formed from seed money provided by a relative of Al-Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden in the 1990s, also carried out the bombing of a ferry in Manila Bay in 2004 that claimed 116 lives in the country's deadliest terror attack.

The military had been pressing an assault against the Abu Sayyaf, attacking their camps and bombing their hideouts just before Kantner was killed.

TERRORISM

Anti-Semitism ‘massive problem’ in Germany, says Jewish leader on terror attack anniversary

On the second anniversary of a far-right terror attack at a German synagogue, the German Jewish Council has warned that the government needs to make more efforts to stop the spread of anti-Semitism online.

Anti-Semitism 'massive problem' in Germany, says Jewish leader on terror attack anniversary
A star of David on the roof of the Halle synagogue. Photo: dpa-Zentralbild | Hendrik Schmidt

Two years after a terrorist attack in the east German town of Halle that left two people dead, Josef Schuster, head of the Central Council of Jews, said that more needed to be done in the fight against anti-Semitism and right-wing extremism.

“The spread and incitement of hate, for example in the form of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories via social media, is a massive problem,” Schuster told DPA.

On October 9th 2019, a heavily armed right-wing extremist called Stephan Balliet tried to enter the Halle city synagogue on the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur.

When he failed to do so, he shot a 40-year-old passerby. He later killed a 20-year-old man at a kebab shop. While trying to escape, the 28-year-old injured several people before he was caught by the police.

The city of Halle is commemorating the event on Saturday, with wreaths to be laid at the scene of the crime. Reiner Haseloff, state leader of Saxony-Anhalt, is expected to attend.

Balliet was sentenced to life in prison in 2020 by the Naumburg Higher Regional Court. His sentence will be followed by preventive detention.

Funs for synagogue security

While praising the German government for introducing a law that makes social media companies responsible for hateful content posted on their sites, Schuster said that the legislation needed to be extended to messenger services such as Telegram.

“We must do everything we can to ensure that the internet is not a lawless space,” he said.

According to Schuster, the German government reacted quickly after the Halle attack by providing money to improve security at Jewish institutions.

This was an important step, he said. “However, there is still much to be done at the political and social level to combat growing anti-Semitism.”

SEE ALSO: Four held over foiled ‘Islamist’ attack on German synagogue

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