The beheading of John Ridsdel, the Canadian hostage killed by Abu Sayyaf in the southern Philippines turned the spotlight back on the small band of Muslim militants whose brutal reputation precedes that of the Islamic State group, which they now idolize.
Abu Sayyaf emerged as an extremist offshoot of the decades-long Muslim secessionist conflict in the south and has carved its name in blood, carrying out mass kidnappings, beheadings and bombings.
Washington turned the southern Philippines into a key plank of its global war against terrorism following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to contain the Abu Sayyaf’s atrocities including the abductions of three American tourists from a resort that year, including one who was beheaded.
A look at the major attacks by the Abu Sayyaf:
– April 1995: Abu Sayyaf fighters storm the mostly Christian town of Ipil in the south, killing more than 50 people after robbing banks and stores and burning the town center.
– April 2000: Twenty one people, including European tourists, are seized from Malaysia’s Sipadan diving resort and hauled across the sea border by speedboats to jungle camps in the southern Philippines. All the hostages were freed in batches in exchange for millions of dollars in ransom reportedly paid by Libya.
– May 2001: Twenty tourists, including three Americans, are kidnapped from the Dos Palmas resort in southwestern Palawan province, starting a yearlong hostage saga that leaves a number of captives dead, including U.S. nationals Martin Burnham and Guillermo Sobero, who was beheaded.
– October 2002: A nail-laden bomb detonates in Zamboanga city, killing four, including an American Green Beret.
– February 2004: A bomb on a passenger ferry in Manila Bay kills 116 in the country’s worst terrorist attack.
– February 2005: Nearly simultaneous bombings in Manila and two southern cities kill eight and wound more than 100.
– November 2015: Militants in Sulu behead a Malaysian man while the APEC summit is underway in Manila, attended by President Obama and Malaysian premier Najib Razak.
– April 2016: Canadian John Ridsdel, 68, is beheaded in Sulu. Twenty-two other foreign hostages remain in Abu Sayyaf custody. Shortly after the beheading, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the killing a “heinous act” and ensured his government is working with the Philippines to find the hostage-takers.
“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,” Trudeau said. “They have endured a terrible ordeal and this is a devastating moment for all of them.”
WATCH: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau calls beheading of John Ridsdel in Philippines ‘cold-blooded murder’
-With files from Global News reporters Adam Frisk, Kevin Nielsen