THE leader of the rebel Cambodian group who kidnapped three Westerners, including a former Hong Kong resident, has been identified by Phnom Penh, British and Australian officials heading the search for the missing trio. The father of former model, Dominic Chappell, told the Sunday Morning Post that the ''warlord'' was known as Commander Bo and that he controlled an area near where his son was abducted nearly six weeks ago. David Chappell, 55, said the rebel leader was well known to local people and had a camp in the jungle not far from the town of Sre Ambel, about 100 kilometres north of the southern port city of Sihanoukville. ''I am 99.9 per cent sure who has them,'' Mr Chappell said. ''He is a semi-independent warlord with 60 men under his control and he is well established. ''And he is Khmer Rouge.'' Mr Chappell doubts Commander Bo will hurt his son or his two female companions. ''If he harms them then he will have both sides [the Cambodian government and Khmer Rouge] 'on' him and his own life will be in danger,'' Mr Chappell said. Commander Bo came indirectly under the control of the Khmer Rouge regional commander, who Mr Chappell said was called General Paet, although it was unclear how much influence he exerted on the rogue rebel. Mr Chappell is due to fly back to Cambodia this week in another attempt to find some clues as to the whereabouts of his son and his two female companions who were kidnapped after being stopped by accident at a rebel roadblock. In spite of the amount of time they have been held by armed guerillas, he was optimistic they would be released unharmed. ''They have had a rough time,'' he said in a matter-of-fact tone of voice, ''but they will come out of it okay at the end. I am very confident but it is puzzling why there has been no contact for nearly six weeks''. Dominic, 25, his Australian girlfriend, 24-year-old former model, Kelly Wilkinson, and their British friend Tina Dominy, 24, were kidnapped on April 11 as they were returning to Sihanoukville from Phnom Penh. Mr Chappell, a freelance photographer who lives on Lamma, will leave tomorrow for Phnom Penh where he will accompany an Australian film crew which is making a documentary based on the ordeal of Ms Wilkinson, who comes from Queensland. During his four-to five-day trip, he hopes to meet senior Cambodian officials and to pick up any details he can about the welfare of his son and the two women. Mr Chappell will also try to find out what the latest information is on two ransom notes, which he believes could be fakes, that were received by the British Embassy in Phnom Penh. The two notes, which were hand-written and relayed by Khmer operatives indirectly in contact with the group, contained ransom demands and a deadline which Mr Chappell would not discuss for fear of harming future negotiations. ''They are purported to be from the man who is holding them but they are written in an ill-educated style,'' he said. Mr Chappell said the notes could have been written by two of Commander Bo's lieutenants but he has doubts as they wanted money ''up front'' for proof that the three were still alive.