April 26th, 2016 Grant Rowles Grant Rowles
Philippine militant group Abu Sayyaf has given the shipping industry a shocking taste of things to come, having beheaded a Canadian hostage sparking fears the same fate might wait await over 20 others being held, mostly crew members from vessels captured by the group.
The Canadian man was beheaded after the group said they would kill him on April 25 if a ransom of $6.4 million wasn’t paid.
Malaysian tugboat Massive 6, Indonesian tug Brahma 12, and Indonesian barge Anand 12 have all been hijacked by the group in the last month. Abu Sayyaf is currently holding 18 Indonesian and Malaysian seafarers it abducted from the vessels off the southern Philippines.
OTTAWA — Abu Sayyaf, the Philippines militant group responsible for killing a Canadian hostage on Monday, sprang up in the early 1990s as an offshoot of another, larger Islamic insurgent group.
The Canadian government, which considers Abu Sayyaf to be a terrorist organization, says its ostensible goal is the establishment of an Islamic state governed by sharia law in the southern portion of the Philippines archipelago.
In practice, though, it primarily uses terrorism for profit: kidnap-for-ransom, guerrilla warfare, mass-casualty bombings, and beheadings are favoured tactics. It claimed responsibility for bombing and sinking a passenger ferry, which killed more than 100 people in February 2004.
Abu Sayyaf is one of a handful of Muslim insurgent groups outside of a peace deal signed by the Philippine government with the main rebel group, the 11,000-strong Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
That agreement calls for the creation of a more powerful and potentially larger autonomous region for minority Muslims in the south of the largely Roman Catholic country.
Abu Sayyaf — the name means "bearer of the sword" in Arabic — has links to Al Qaida, the Canadian government says.
It is thought the group is relatively small, with about 400 fighters drawn from loosely-affiliated sub-groups, mostly organized along traditional clan and familial lines. Membership fluctuates in response to successful terror operations and pressure from the Philippines military.
The organization is also listed as a terrorist entity by the Philippines, the United States, Australia and Britain, among others.