A Jordanian TV reporter who was held for 18 months by the Abu Sayyaf on Friday said that his ordeal would be added to his book on global ‘hotspots’.
Baker Atyani, who walked free from the hands of the rebels on Wednesday, also said he hoped to return to the Philippines despite his harrowing experience.
The gaunt-looking journalist, who lost a third of his body weight while being held in the jungles of the strife-torn Jolo island, said he “definitely” planned to return to the Philippines, saying “it’s a beautiful place [with]beautiful people”.
“I will add this experience and I hope this will be a good [addition]to this book,” he said, adding that his main priorities now would be “to see my loved ones and to go back to this life.”
The Jordanian will undergo a debriefing and more medical tests but could fly home as early as Saturday, said S/Supt. Renato Gumban, head of the anti-kidnapping unit.
Gumban said Atyani was “normal,” and could recall his experiences clearly despite his ordeal.
“He was not physically abused. It’s just that his food was also rice and fish so he lost a lot of weight,” the police official added.
Atyani earlier said he escaped from his captors when his guards grew lax and left him. But the circumstances of his freedom remain hazy.
Previous Abu Sayyaf kidnapping cases have involved large ransom payoffs, but neither Atyani’s family nor employer would confirm the rebel group’s alleged demand for millions of dollars.
Atyani, the Southeast Asia bureau chief of the Al-Arabiya News Network, gained fame for interviewing Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden months before the September 11, 2001 attacks.
He hired two Filipino crew members and went to Jolo in June last year to interview Abu Sayyaf leaders, but were instead taken hostage.
The Filipinos were separated from Atyani five days into their captivity, and were freed in February this year.
No money was involved in their release.
The Abu Sayyaf, a rebel group linked to Al-Qaeda, has been blamed for the country’s worst terror attacks, including bombings and abductions of foreigners and missionaries.