‘They will execute us’: Ransom deadline set for Canadians held hostage in Philippines
Two Canadians held captive in the Philippines for nearly six months have appeared in a new video with a haunting and dire warning.
Identifying themselves as John Ridsdel and Robert Hall, the two men were frail and distressed in a video that appeared on Facebook Thursday, as they were forced to plead for the Canadian government to act on the demands on their captors, the militant group Abu Sayyaf.
With a large knife held to his neck and wincing in pain, former mining consultant Ridsdel directed his words at the prime minister and the Canadian people.
“Please do what’s needed to meet their demands within one month or they will kill me, they will execute us,” Ridsdel said under duress.
“The Canadian government has got to get off its ass and do what is necessary to get us out of here soon. We’ve got one month before this happens,” says Hall, lifting his cuffed hands off the ground and gesturing towards Ridsdel as a machete-wielding captor repeatedly runs the dull side of his blade against Ridsdel’s neck.
Ridsdel, 68 at the time he was kidnapped, was once a senior vice president chief operating officer for Calgary-based mining company TVI Pacific. Hall, reported to be 50 years old when he was taken hostage, appears gaunt and with much longer hair in this latest video.
The terror group had previously demanded more than $100 million in ransom to release the four captives.
In a video posted online in November, Hall said, under duress, he was being held for “one billion pesos” or CDN $28 million. It’s the same demand for each of the other hostages.
Global News has reached out to Global Affairs for a response to the demands Abu Sayyaf made in the video, but spokesperson Rachna Mishra said the government would “not comment or release any information which may compromise ongoing efforts or endanger the safety of Canadian citizens.”
The Canadian government names Abu Sayyaf on its list of designated terrorist organizations.
Ridsdel and Hall were seized from a marina on the southern Philippines resort island of Samal on Sept. 21.
The pair were taken captive along with Hall’s reported Filipina companion Marites Flor and the marina’s Norwegian manager Kjartan Sekkingstad.
Sekkingstad identifies the captors as being members of the al Qaeda-affiliated Abu Sayyaf and says they are being held in the Sulu islands.
“Try to meet their demands within 30 days or we’re all dead,” Sekkingstad says before a masked captor sets an April 8 deadline for the ransom.
“If you think your that your policy is far better for you than the lives of [these] captives, certainly we will do something terrible against [these] captives,” he shouts before leading the other machine gun-carrying militants in chanting “Allahu Akbar (God is great).”
Risk mitigation strategist Matt Williams told the New York Times this may just be a “bargaining chip” to push the foreign and Philippines authorities into negotiations.
“Setting ransom deadlines is straight out of their playbook and typically reflects a growing impatience with the speed of negotiations. However, Abu Sayyaf leadership have a history of extending deadlines at the eleventh hour.”
But that wasn’t the case in November, when the group beheaded a Malaysian hostage and left his head outside a local police station in the city of Jolo, the capital of Sulu province.
Abu Sayyaf has a long history of kidnappings and attempted kidnappings in the region of Mindanao — the second-largest island in the Philippines and where the government had fought against separatist and Islamist insurgencies for decades.
© 2016 Shaw Media