Madhatta Haipe, a citizen of the Philippines, has been extradited from the Philippines to face trial in the District of Columbia for various crimes relating to the hostage taking of U.S. and Philippine citizens in 1995. Haipe was arrested Aug. 27 upon his arrival in the United States and is expected to make his initial appearance this afternoon in federal court in the District of Columbia to face a seven-count indictment filed on November 8, 2000.
The extradition, which was announced by David Kris, Assistant Attorney General for National Security; Channing Phillips, Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, and Charlene B. Thornton, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Honolulu Field Office, culminates a long term investigation.
The indictment alleges that defendant Madhatta Haipe, also known as Commander Haipe, led a group of armed individuals on Dec. 27, 1995 in the kidnapping of 16 individuals, including four U.S. citizens, in the rugged area around Trankini Falls, Mindanao Island, in the Philippines.
Haipe, who was a Professor of Islamic Studies at Mindanao State University, and his well-armed group of unidentified co-conspirators allegedly made threats to kill all the hostages if any of them attempted to escape. It is alleged that the group had numerous weapons, including automatic weapons.
The hostages, which included children, were threatened with weapons, forced to march through the jungle, and robbed of their valuables. The hostages were taken by force. Some were struck with rifle butts and all had rope tied around their hands or neck. Several hostages were released to facilitate the payment of the ransom. Those released were threatened that the other hostages would be killed if there was any military action taken against the hostage takers in an effort to free the hostages.
Between Dec. 27 and Dec. 31, 1995, the hostages were released as the kidnappers allegedly collected ransoms of one million pesos (about US $38,000 in 1995) and 500,000 pesos (about US $19,000 in 1995).
"With this extradition, we hope to finally bring justice for the U.S. and Philippine victims who were held hostage and repeatedly threatened with death during this crime," said David Kris, Assistant Attorney General for National Security. "I commend the FBI, the Justice Department prosecutors and the authorities in the Philippines who never stopped pursuing this matter on behalf of the victims."
Channing Phillips, Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, said, "We will continue to use the full extent of our terrorism laws to prosecute those who take Americans hostage overseas. The pursuit of justice on behalf of hostage-taking victims remains one of our top priorities."
"The FBI Honolulu Division has investigated this matter in close coordination with the Philippine authorities for approximately 15 years," said Charlene Thornton, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Honolulu. "Through this international cooperation, we finally anticipate bringing to justice those who harm our U.S. citizens abroad despite the time and distance."
Presented to the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. by a federal grand jury in November 2000, the seven-count indictment charges Haipe with hostage taking, using firearms during a crime of violence and conspiracy, for which maximum prison sentences range between five years and life imprisonment.
The Department of Justice and the FBI, working with their partners in the Philippines have vigorously pursued this case for years. The investigation was conducted by FBI Honolulu Field Office, with substantial assistance from the Philippines Department of Justice, the Philippine National Police, the National Bureau of Investigation, and the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs.
The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Gregg Maisel and Anthony Asuncion of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, as well as Trial Attorney T. J. Reardon, III, of the Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.
The public is reminded that an indictment is an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.