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Last cruise of pirate chasers Juergen Kantner and Sabine Merz, a geography

Lapu-Lapu beats Magellan
There’s something fishy about the story of German sailor Juergen Gustav Kantner, whose beheading video was just released by Abu Sayyaf rebels (ASG). Apparently Kantner, 70, had been kidnapped by Somali pirates before this. What are the chances, considering all the gin joints and circumnavigators these days? In a further coincidence, the umpteen sensational articles are all short on details, including the dead woman found on Kantner’s boat, her identity discarded by even the media. Why? Her name was Sabine Isne Merz, 59, sometimes cited as Sabina Wetch. She and husband Kantner were ransomed in Somalia in August 2008 after 52 days in captivity. This time Merz’s body was found aboard the Bermuda-rigged “Rockall”, but a whole Sulu Sea away from where the couple was allegedly captured.

I’d like to lay out the geography of what’s been revealed so far, so emerging facts will more easily shake themselves out online.

According to the ASG, the Germans were seized in November 2016 while sailing on Tanjong Luok Pisuk (spelled Luuk in media reports), an inlet on the Northwest coast of Borneo, in the state of Sabah, Malaysia. Then, halfway down Sabah, Merz was purportedly killed in a shootout with her captors off Tawi-Tawi Isand in the Pangutaran province of Western Mindanao, the Philippines. Her body was found beside a shotgun on the Rockall, abandoned off Laparan Island in Sulu province. Some reports say the sailboat was moored, some say adrift. Though Tawi-Tawi and Sulu belong to the Philippines, they are governed by the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), from which today’s gruesome video is thought to originate.

Juergen Kantner met his end at the edge of a curved blade wielded by Muslim rebels in the Philippines’ long contested province of Mindanao. A nearby indigenous resistance in Cebu, under the leadership of Lapu-Lapu five hundred years ago, stopped explorer Ferdinand Magellan halfway round the circumnavigation for which he’s given credit because on a previous trip he’d come around from the other direction to “discover” the Malay Archipelago. By coincidence, Kanter and Merz almost bridged the gap.

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