Released American captive wants quiet life

MANILA, Philippines, AP

An American who was rescued by the military after nearly eight months in Muslim rebel captivity wants a quiet life and many children after his traumatic experience, his wife said Sunday.

Army troops found Jeffrey Schilling of Oakland, California, barefoot and covered with mosquito bites when they rescued him Thursday in Luuk town on southern Jolo Island, where he had been held in a jungle since August by the Abu Sayyaf rebels.

U.S. Embassy spokesman Michael Anderson said the 25-year-old Schilling would be flown home to the United States after a debriefing in Manila by U.S. and Philippine authorities.

Schilling’s wife, Ivy Osani, said her husband told her he now wanted to live a simple life with her. In the past, Schilling has said he wanted as many as 26 children and has prepared two sets of 13 names each for boys and girls, Osani said.

“He told me he wanted a simple life for us in America,” Osani said in a telephone interview from southern Zamboanga City. She was preparing to fly to Manila to meet her husband for the first time since his release. In at least three telephone conversations she has had with Schilling since he was freed, they only talked about his ordeal once, when she asked if it was true he tried to commit suicide as the rebels claimed.

“Why will I commit suicide? I needed to be strong because I know there’s somebody to return to,” Osani quoted Schilling saying.

Schilling said he passed the time in captivity by writing letters to her and other loved ones but there was nobody to deliver the messages, according to Osani.

After his rescue, Schilling was brought by Philippine authorities to the northern mountain resort city of Baguio Friday to meet President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who was vacationing there.

Schilling, who weighed 113 kilograms before his capture, told reporters in Baguio he lost 45 kilograms during his captivity. He denied reports that he had joined his rebel captors.

Civilians on Jolo Island reported seeing Schilling patrolling with the Abu Sayyaf guerrillas and carrying a rifle. Schilling’s wife, Osani, is a cousin of an Abu Sayyaf spokesman, Abu Sabaya, and the two were visiting a rebel camp in Jolo when the guerrillas decided to hold him captive on Aug. 31. Osani was allowed to go.