Islamic State-linked militants in the Philippines reportedly kidnapped a German couple previously held by Somali pirates for 52 days in 2008.
The German couple, Jürgen Kantner and Sabine Merz, reportedly sailed the high seas for nearly 40 years aboard their 30 foot yacht. They secured freedom in 2008 after a reported $600,000 ransom was paid to pirates.
Kanter and Merz were abducted off the coast of the Southern Philippines, which is heavily infiltrated by Abu Sayyaf, and Merz was allegedly shot and killed.
Abu Sayyaf previously swore allegiance to al-Qaida, and now has ties to ISIS.
“Our men shot back and killed her,” an Abu Sayaf spokesman told the Filipino media. Merz’s death remains unconfirmed. Kanter reportedly was allowed to speak to a reporter and said “Pirates took our boat and they took us.”
Kanter will likely be held for ransom, as he was by Somali pirates in 2008. Terrorist groups like Abu Sayyaf derive significant income from kidnapping westerners.
“As always in such cases, I would like to be very tight-lipped,” a German Foreign Ministry spokesman told The New York Times. The German government would not confirm the kidnapping allegations, but a Yachting enthusiast website authenticated a released photo of the captured yacht.
Kanter bristled at assertions he should return to Germany in 2009 telling Agence France Presse “I have no friends back home because I lost contact in 32 years living on my boat. Why should I go back to Germany where I have nobody to help me?” He admitted he had no patience for “the German officials who resent my presence” in Somalia.
“This is my life and it’s wonderful. I have all my things on my boat and I travel to many places in the world. Sailing is how I want to live and die,” Kanter wistfully said at the time.
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