Friday, December 7, 2007
Jim Gomez, Associated Press
MANILA, Philippines - Fourteen al-Qaida-linked Muslim militants were sentenced to life in prison Thursday for kidnapping a Kansas missionary couple and 18 others, beginning a yearlong jungle ordeal that prompted U.S.-backed offensives against the guerrillas.

Gracia Burnham survived, but her husband, Martin, was killed during a military rescue in 2002. Another American captive, Guillermo Sobero of Corona, Calif., had been beheaded earlier by the Abu Sayyaf rebels.

The rescue operation also left a Filipino nurse dead, and two Filipino security guards from the resort also were beheaded by the rebels. The other hostages were released or managed to escape.
The Burnhams, missionaries for the Florida-based New Tribes Mission, were celebrating their 18th wedding anniversary when they were abducted by the Abu Sayyaf at the upscale Dos Palmas resort on Palawan island in May 2001, and taken by speedboat to southern Basilan island.

Burnham, who lives in Rose Hill, returned to the Philippines in 2004 to testify against her captors. She told the court she learned from rebel leader Abu Serbia that the rebels received a ransom from an unknown source, but that the guerrillas still refused to free her and her husband...


Thursday, January 18, 2007
Stan Finger, The Wichita Eagle
When the phone rang in Gracia Burnham's home in Rose Hill early Wednesday morning, she thought it was a friend calling to wish her a happy birthday.

It turned out to be much bigger than that: official word that Jainal Antel Sali Jr., popularly known as Abu Sulaiman -- a top leader of the Abu Sayyaf rebel group, which has links to al-Qaida -- was killed in a gunbattle Tuesday with army special forces in the Philippines.

Sulaiman, 41, was the mastermind behind the kidnapping of missionaries Gracia and Martin Burnham, another American and Filipino tourists from a resort on the southeastern island of Palawan in May 2001.
The Burnhams were held captive in the jungle for 377 days before Martin was killed June 7, 2002, in a firefight that wounded but freed Gracia. The other American kidnapped with the Burnhams, Guillermo Sobero, had been beheaded earlier.

"I felt this huge rush of relief" Wednesday at the news of Sulaiman's death, Gracia Burnham said. "I think he was the most dangerous of all the Abu Sayyaf leaders. He was the mastermind of much atrocity there in Southeast Asia...


Sunday, May 1, 2005
Associated Press
Rose Hill, Kansas - Disguised in a long blond wig, former hostage Gracia Burnham and her three children secretly returned to the Philippines where the family once served as missionaries.

That visit during the recent Christmas school break gave the family a "good dose of closure," Burnham said in an interview at her home.

"We didn't tell anyone here in America that we were going, and we didn't tell anyone in the Philippines that we were coming," she said. "And I figured, if we could sneak in there as a family, we could be normal -- and that is exactly what happened."
It was her second trip to the Philippines since the Abu Sayyaf kidnapped 20 people from southwestern Palawan province in 2001. Among those abducted were missionary couple Martin and Gracia Burnham and Guillermo Sobero, of Corona, Calif. The Burnhams' 377-day ordeal ended with a bloody army rescue on June 7, 2002, that left Martin Burnham and Philippine nurse Ediborah Yap dead...


Friday, March 18, 2005
Associated Press
Manila, Philippines Two of the most dangerous al-Qaida-linked groups in Southeast Asia are working together to train militants in scuba diving for seaborne terror attacks, according to the interrogation of a recently captured guerrilla.

The ominous development is outlined in a Philippine military report obtained Thursday by The Associated Press that also notes increasing collaboration among the Muslim militants in other areas, including financing and explosives, as extremists plot new ways to strike.
In the past year, the Indonesia-based Jemaah Islamiyah has given Abu Sayyaf militants in the Philippines at least $18,500 for explosives training alone, the report said...


Tuesday, March 15, 2005
Associated Press
Manila, Philippines The Philippines braced for retaliatory attacks after some of the country's most hardened terror suspects were killed in a failed prison uprising that left 28 people dead, most of them inmates killed in a barrage of bullets as hundreds of police stormed the maximum security facility.

The dead included three leaders and a fourth member of the al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf, a group notorious for deadly attacks and ransom kidnappings in which hostages have been beheaded. [The killed leaders were] Alhamzer Manatad Limbong, known as Kosovo; Ghalib Andang, known as Commander Robot; and Nadzmie Sabtulah, alias Commander Global.
Mr. Limbong allegedly was involved in a mass kidnapping in 2001-02 that left several hostages including two Americans dead, and a ferry bombing a year ago that killed more than 100 people in the Philippines' worst terrorist attack. Others were accused of ransom kidnappings and other criminal acts...

The two American hostages were Martin Burnham and Guillermo Sobero. Mr. Limbong himself was in the jail partly as a result of Gracia's testimony the previous summer: see below.


Friday, July 30, 2004
The Manila Times - Karl Kaufman
THE former Abu Sayyaf hostage, Gracia Burnham, on Thursday positively identified six of the eight Abu Sayyaf rebels presented before her during the trial on the May 2001 abduction of Filipino and foreign tourists at the Dos Palmas resort in Palawan.

Facing her former captors the first time since her rescue on June 7, 2002, a composed Burnham pointed to Alhamzer Limbong alias Kosovo, Abdul Azan Diamla, Abu Khari Moctar, Bas Ishmael, Alzen Jandul and Dazid Baize as among those who held her, her husband Martin and 18 other Filipino and foreign tourists in the mountains of Basilan for 14 months.

Martin Burnham and a Filipino nurse, Ediborah Yap, were killed during a military rescue operation for the hostages in Sibuco in Zamboanga del Norte.

Security measures were tight at the trial venue. The media were prevented from entering the compound, where the trial was being held.

Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and National Bureau of Investigation provided close-in security to Burnham, and close to 100 police officers guarded the perimeter...