Al-Azhar Grand Imam urges Abu Sayyaf captors to free Jordanian reporter


Jordanian journalist Baker Atyani. AP FILE PHOTO

CAIRO—The Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, the top religious authority for Sunni Muslims, on Wednesday urged Islamist militants in the Philippines to free a reporter with Al-Arabiya news channel seized in June.

Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb called upon kidnappers to “revert to right and religious principles… which stress that kidnapping and terrorism are prohibited,” in a statement released by his office in Egypt’s capital.

He urged the kidnappers of Bakr Atyani, a Jordanian journalist working for Dubai-based Al-Arabiya, to set him free and let him “return safely” to his family.

“This shameful act of kidnapping, terrorism and putting the lives of people at risk for a small sum of money contradicts the principles of Islam,” Tayeb said.

“It also violates the freedoms guaranteed in all conventions and international norms,” he said.

Atyani and two Filipino crew members went missing last June on the remote Philippine island of Jolo, which is notorious for Islamist militants and kidnappings, and a stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf small Islamist movement that has been blamed for most of the country’s attacks and kidnappings.

Earlier this month, the militants released the two crew members, who said they were separated from Atyani on the fifth day of their captivity.

Abu Sayyaf group was founded with seed money from Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda network to fight for an independent Islamic state, though it later turned into a criminal gang.

US special forces have been rotating in the southern Philippines for more than a decade to train local troops in crushing Abu Sayyaf, which is on Washington’s list of wanted foreign terrorist organizations.

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  • geminimind

    The grand imam is right about this one and we ought to follow.
    I will personally repeat his words if I’m allowed to but the main thing is Please have a heart and do so what he says because it’s right.
    His heart,my heart and your heart are all one with the Almighty God.
    Our HEARTS beats one with the Almighty ONE.

    • robert franklin

      kiram and his pirates clan is already under curse of god almighty for three generations. kiram greed and arrogance have caused much sufferings to the people of sulu. piracy, kidnapping, and murdering innocence lives, the curse is going to continue for the next three generations.

  • dprotector

    This is the situation where the sultan of Sulu can show his influence. He can ask the kidnappers who maybe still has respect to him to release the Jordanian reporter. It will be a good public relations image for the sultan of Sulu.

    • robert franklin

      kiram and his pirates clan has no influence in his sulu backyard. it is only his greed and stupidity to demand sabah from the sabah people.

  • MrRead

    Where are the Drones when you needed one?

    • foreignerph

      You can buy some if you want some. No money? Take some of the bribes to the senators. Or do you want the Americans to wash your dirty linen again for free?

  • robert franklin

    kiram and your pirate clan, these are the sort of people you are… kidnappers, pirates, murderes, terrorists. stop dreaming sabah if you cannot even manage law and order in your own sulu backyard.

  • sepultorero

    Stop the crap. What the Grand Imam is really saying is release the victim because the ransom had been paid. This press release is just a ‘pogi point’ for the Grand Imam. Get real!

  • robert franklin

    February 2013, a Jordanian kidnapped (will be murdered anytime). Before in October 2002, an American Marine murdered. In September 2009, these pirates of the sultan killed 2 U.S. sailors and a Filipino marine. All these happened in kiram’s sulu backyard.

    These kirams are despicable tyrants. You give in to them today, next they will claim manila under their sultanate. You would be thinking JKIII is having a vacation with his followers right now in manila, he might be planning terror attack in manila itself. He is dreaming Malacanang Palace, get it?

  • robert franklin

    kiram and his pirates clan are not the right and religious people. they make feast of what is haram by kidnapping and terrorism. curse is on kiram and his pirates people.

  • robert franklin

    kiram and your pirate clan, the sort of people who are kidnappers, pirates, murderes, terrorists.
    the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar has curse on you and your people. be afraid of the mighty God!

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