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Last September, Abu Sayyaf militants threatened to behead two Canadians and a Norwegian whom they had kidnapped from a marina on southern Samal Island of Southern Phillipines if a large ransom was not granted. Last Monday, the decapitated head of John Ridsdel, one of the Canadians was found. Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada was outraged by the news and asked that they condemn the captors as a nation without any reservations. He further stated that this act of animalistic brutality would not go unpunished and that the Canadian government was working with the Philippines and other international partner to see that justice is metted out.

The Abu Sayyaf, a group of Islam extremists in the predominantly Roman Catholic nation and a sub-cult of the infamous Al Qaeda group, emerged in the early 1990’s and began intricate large-scale abductions very early in its career. According to intelligence reports, about 400 militants from the Abu Sayyaf group were involved in the kidnappings. The abductions highlight the security problems rampant in the southern parts of the Philippines, a region blessed with bountiful resources and cursed with lawlessness, poverty and decades-long grunges from the Muslim community and communist insurgencies.

In light of these occurrences, both the United States and the Philippines have listed the Abu Sayyaf group as a terrorist organization. Back in September, the Abu Sayyaf posted militant videos online for ransom demands. John Ridsdel, a fellow Canadian Robert Hall, Filipino Marites Flor, a woman who was kidnapped for being in the wrong place at the wrong time were shown sitting in a clearing, and Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad which military experts think may have been Jolo in the Sulu province. The video depicted several heavily armed militants standing behind them with twin black flags hanging against a backdrop of foliage. In some of the released videos, a militant was seen positioning a long knife on Ridsdel’s neck. According to the Chief Supt. Junpikar Sitin of Jolo police, two men fled after placing a plastic bag with Ridsdel’s head on the street near Jolo town. Prime Minister Trudeau expressed his deepest sympathy to the deceased’s family and friends and urged the nation to mourn and support them in their time of need.

About the author: Timothy Evans

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