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Posted at 4:11 PM ET, 07/28/2010

Terror group founder pleads guilty

By Spencer S. Hsu

A founding member of a violent, al Qaeda-linked separatist group in the Philippines pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court in Washington to taking hostage four U.S. citizens among a group of 16 people kidnapped in December 1995, the Justice Department announced.

Madhatta Haipe, then second-in-command of the Abu Sayyaf Group, or Harakat Al-Islamiyyah, faces a possible sentence of up to life in prison on each of four counts Dec. 14, although prosecutors agreed to seek no more than a 25-year term.
Haipe, 48, was indicted in 2000 and extradited from the Philippines in August 2009 for the Dec. 27, 1995, abductions near Lake Sebu in southern Lake Sebu , in which he admitted threatening hostages with death and seeking a ransom of the equivalent of about $38,000.

Abu Sayyaf, best known for beheading kidnapping victims, including Westerners, was founded in the early 1990s with the goal of creating an Islamic state in the Philippines and received early support from Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda. The U.S. government has designated it a terrorist group and sent troops to help the Philippine government fight it.

By Spencer S. Hsu  | July 28, 2010; 4:11 PM ET
Categories:  Spencer S. Hsu, The District  
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