Canadian Hostage John Ridsdel Beheaded in the Philippines

Abu Sayyaf, a Filipino Islamist jihadi group with links to Islamic State (ISIS), has beheaded a hostage from Canada, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed on Monday.

John Ridsdel, 68, an ex-journalist turned mining executive, was abducted by Islamist militants along with three other people in September 2015 while on vacation on a Philippine island.

“I am outraged by the news that a Canadian citizen held hostage has been killed. This was an act of cold-blooded murder,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The Philippine army said a severed head was found on a remote island on Monday, five hours after the expiry of a ransom deadline set by militants who had threatened to execute one of four captives.

According to Sulu province police, a province in the southern Philippines where Abu Sayyaf is believed to be holding several captives, two men on a motorcycle left Ridsdel’s severed head in a plastic bag on a street in Jolo town, before fleeing the scene.

Abu Sayyaf had earlier threatened to behead one of three captives if by Monday it was not paid a ransom equivalent to around $6.4 million for each of the three hostages – two Canadians and a Norwegian.

Ridsdel formerly worked as a journalist in Calgary before becoming a mining executive, and was in semi-retirement at the time of his capture.

Aside from Ridsdel the other Canadian was identified as Robert Hall, and Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad, manager of the resort’s marina where they were captured. A Filipino woman was also captured, according to police.

Security is precarious in the southern Philippines, despite a 2014 peace pact between the government and the largest Muslim rebel group that ended 45 years of conflict.