The resurgent Abu Sayyaf terrorist group is flying the Isis flag in the Philippines – but not everyone is convinced by their posturing.
Does Abu Sayyaf pose a major terror threat to Southeast Asia?
By: Paul Millar
On the night of 25 April, during a blackout on Jolo Island in the southwest Philippines, a man’s head was thrown off the back of a motorbike. Wrapped in a plastic bag and cloaked in the shadows of a lightless city, the five children who found it didn’t see the blood until the power returned.
A week later, Abu Sayyaf released a graphic video showing 68-year-old Canadian John Ridsdel being beheaded with a machete by an unidentified member of the terrorist group. It had been seven months since the businessman was taken from a resort on the island of Samal along with fellow Canadian Robert Hall, Filipina Teresita Flor and Norwegian marina manager Kjarten Sekkingstad. The price for their freedom was set at $6.5m each. The last deadline had passed; the ransom left unpaid.
Earlier this year, Abu Sayyaf carried out a series of abductions in the waters around the southern Philippines, seizing 18 foreign hostages over three separate on-water raids in less than a month. In May, ten Indonesian sailors held by the group were released after their employer agreed to hand over more than $1m to the kidnappers – a payment negotiators in the Indonesian military deny was ever made.
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Tags: Abu Sayyaf Group, anti-piracy, ASG, counter piracy, hijack, Hostage, hostages, ISIS, Islamic State, maritime crime, maritime piracy, Maritime Security, Militants, philippines, Piracy, ransom, Southeast Asia, Sulu Sea, terrorism