Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada has expressed outrage over the beheading of John Ridsdel, one of two Canadian citizens held hostage by the Abu Sayyaf Group since September 2015.
“On behalf of the Government of Canada and all Canadians, I would like to express my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Ridsdel. They have endured a terrible ordeal, and this is a devastating moment for all of them,” Trudeau said during a press conference.
“This was an act of cold-blooded murder and responsibility rests squarely with the terrorist group who took him hostage,” he said. The Prime Minister vowed that his administration will work with the Philippine government and other international partners to arrest those responsible for the murder.
“The Government of Canada’s first priority is the safety and security of its citizens. The Government of Canada will not comment or release any information which may compromise ongoing efforts or endanger the safety of the remaining hostages,” Trudeau concluded.
Ridsdel, a 68-year-old man from Calgary, was held in captivity together with fellow Canadian Robert Hall, Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad, and Filipina Maritess Flor. The Abu Sayyaf early this month demanded a ransom of P300 million (about US $8 million) for each of the three foreign hostages. Neither the Canadian nor the Norwegian government has caved in so far.
Primarily based in the southern most islands of the Philippines, Abu Sayyaf has been involved in several high-profile kidnap-for-ransom activities in the past. In 2000, the group raided the island resort of Sipadan in Malaysia and in 2001, it attacked the Dos Palmas Resort in Palawan. In both instances, the bandits targeted foreign tourists.
The ASG has long been included in the United States government’s list of foreign terrorist organizations, especially because of its close ties to international terrorist groups including Al Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiyah. In 2014, its senior leaders pledged allegiance to the group calling itself as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or ISIS.