Hamsiraji Sali, a commander and group leader for the Abu Sayyaf Group, participated in the August 2000 kidnapping of Jeffrey Schilling and the May 2001 Dos Palmas kidnapping incident.
On August 28, 2000, the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) kidnapped a United States citizen by the name of Jeffrey Craig Edward Schilling. In return for Mr. Schilling, the ASG demanded $10 million and the release of three international terrorists from U.S. prisons: al-Qaida operatives Ramzi Yousef and Wali Khan, and “the Blind Sheikh,” the spiritual leader of the Egyptian terrorist group al-Gama’at al-Islamiyya. On April 12, 2001, Jeffrey Schilling successfully evaded his captors and was repatriated to the United States.
On May 27, 2001, the ASG kidnapped three American citizens from the Dos Palmas Resort on Palawan in the Philippines. The three Americans were identified as Guillermo Sobero and Martin and Gracia Burnham, an American missionary couple. On June 11, 2001, the ASG spokesman, Abu Sabaya, claimed he had had Guillermo Sobero executed as a “birthday present” for Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. On October 7, 2001, a human skull was recovered from Basilan Island, which was found to be that of Guillermo Sobero. In June 2002, Martin Burnham died in the crossfire between the Filipino soldiers and the ASG; Gracia Burnham was injured, but was rescued and repatriated to the United States.
In February 2002, Sali was indicted by a federal grand jury in the District of Columbia on the following counts: Conspiracy Resulting in Death, Hostage-Taking and three counts of Hostage-Taking Resulting in Death.
A reward of $1 million was paid for the information that led to Sali’s location.