Warren Rodwell was living on the island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines, when he was abducted by the militant Islamic group Abu Sayyaf.
Español: Warren Rodwell vivía en la isla de Mindanao, en el sur de Filipinas, cuando fue secuestrado por el grupo militante islámico Abu Sayyaf. Escucha su entrevista de radio.
His captors were a group of young gunmen dressed as police, who initially nearly killed him through incompetence. Rodwell was shot through the finger and nearly drowned at sea: ”The motors caught on fire and that’s when I could see the errors being made“ says Rodwell. It wasn’t until some time later during the capture that Warren realised the men were Abu Sayyaf followers.
For the next fifteen months, Warren Rodwell was moved from camp to camp in the mountain jungles and mangrove swamps. He struggled each day to stay in control of his mind: “I’ve always had a passion for numbers; I’d add up numbers, trying to solve mathematical problems.”
He also reviewed his life and the lives of all the people he’d known: ”I thought to myself that I wanted to at least outlive my mother.”
Hunger was constant, and by the end of his fifteen months as a hostage, Rodwell had lost around thirty kilos. His Filippino captors suffered from the same lack of food and sickness: “I’d observe their behaviours and because I’d see a change in guards, I’d also see some of them getting sick, others going crazy. That was always refreshing, when you see that those who are supposed to be in the more powerful situation are suffering more than you are” says Rodwell.
Eventually a ransom – or “board and lodging” – was paid to the hostage takers, although it was a tiny fraction of the original demand for two million US dollars.
Warren Rodwell’s release was both overwhelming and ordinary. He was dropped off at a wharf in the port city of Pagadian, and could hardly walk as he told an incredulous port guard that he’d been kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf.
Since his release, Warren Rodwell has been recovering in Brisbane. He’s been collaborating with researcher Dr Bob East in a book, 472 Days Captive Of The Abu Sayyaf: The Survival Of Australian Warren Rodwell to be published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing UK.