According to reports, Atyani came to the Philippines as a tourist. Interior and local government Secretary Jesse Robredo said Atyani did not secure a working permit from the Bureau of Immigration before he went to Mindanao. His main objective in going to Sulu was allegedly to interview ranking members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf that is notorious for kidnap for ransom activities.
However, there's a mystery in Atyani's visit to southern Philippines. Observations surfaced that Atyani may have other motives aside from his being a journalist why he visited Sulu. Political observers have thought that he could have been used as a courier to bring an important message or funds to the Muslim rebels as a means to avoid detection from the authorities.
For a long time now, many people are wondering as to how the Muslim rebels are able to sustain their basic needs without any funding from the Middle East. For sure, the Muslim rebels are not working for free. They put their lives fighting for their ideological beliefs. In return, they must get something in return to feed their families, too.
At the moment, financial institutions in the Philippines are very strict on financial transactions as mandated by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC). Such that huge sums of money being channeled into the banks are being closely scrutinized properly by the government. The national government has been under strict orders to subscribe to acceptable financial transactions as required by the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force.
In the meantime, the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) has denied reports that it has accredited Atyani. FOCAP said that Atyani should have applied for accreditation with the International Press Center, a government agency that is tasked to entertain applications for accreditation of foreign journalists coming to work in the Philippines.
At this writing, government officials, including the police and the military, are wondering as to the whereabouts of Atyani. And they have not heard of any ransom demands from the Muslim insurgents either. If there was no demand, there are suspicions that Atyani could have been hiding somewhere else or may have already exited at the backdoor through the help of the Muslim insurgents themselves. The town of Sandakan in Malaysia is a couple of hours drive by a motorized boat from Sulu.