PETALING JAYA - Were the Abu Sayyaf paid for the release of two Germans they abducted in April?
The terror group has released a video which purportedly shows evidence of the ransom money they received for the release of German pair Stefan Viktor Okonek and Henrike Dielen.
But the Armed Forces of the Philippines have questioned the authenticity of video.
Abu Sayyaf spokesman Muamar Askali posted the video clip on Facebook, showing a group of bandits standing around a bundle of cash which reportedly totalled 250 million pesos (RM18.5mil) that was received in exchange for the release of the Germans.
The three-minute clip showed the militants piling bundles of 1,000 peso (RM74) bills into five stacks and placing the money on top of a large black plastic bag.
The Philippine Star, which spotted the video yesterday, reported that the militants were heard counting the money in the Tausug dialect.
The black flag of the purported Islamic State was visible in the background, it reported.
A military spokesman, Lt Col Harold Cabunoc, said the stacks of 1,000 peso bills seen in the video released by the group were easy to fake.
He maintained that that there was no negotiation with the armed group and military leaders were not privy to the payment of any ransom.
Philippine Rear Admiral Reynaldo Yoma, the commander of the Joint Task Group Basulta in charge of the offensive against Abu Sayyaf, has refused to comment on the video.
Abu Sayyaf is a prominent terror group in southern Philippines and is notorious for kidnapping and beheading its victims.
The video surfaced as Malaysian security forces were working hard to secure the release of two hostages abducted from the shores of Sabah in recent months.
Fish farm breeder Chan Sai Chuin was kidnapped from a village in Kunak on June 14, while Marine police officer Kons Zakiah Aleip was abducted on July 12, following an attack on a marine unit on Pulau Mabul, Semporna.
Their captors are demanding a ransom of RM3mil for each of them.
Chan's wife, Chin Pek Nyuen, met with Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim at the Parliament lobby on Tuesday, and appealed to the Government to secure her husband's release before the Nov 30 deadline given by the kidnappers.