Canadian and Norwegian Hostages in Southern Philippine’s Plead for their Lives in YouTube Video
MANILA – Philippine Army Brig. Gen. Alan Arrojado said Wednesday that the three foreigners kidnapped in Samal Island last month have been forced to issue an online appeal to the Philippine and Canadian governments for a stop of all military operations in Sulu.
.Army Brig. Gen. Alan Arrojado reported that a recently posted video of foreigners kidnapped on the island of Mindanao in September was being verified but appeared to be authentic. The video shows two Canadians and a Norwegian man begging for their lives as masked men displaying Islamic State flags threaten them.
“A technical team is validating it,” Army Brig. Gen. Alan Arrojado, said of the clip on Twitter, which lasts more than two minutes and also appears to show a fourth hostage, a woman from the Philippines, who does not speak. “No group has been identified with finality, and none have claimed responsibility.”
The kidnapping and subsequent video come after a period of relative optimism in the southern Philippines, where Mindanao is the major island. In 2012, the government signed a peace agreement with the country’s largest Islamic rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which is based in the south. It was hoped that the deal, which did not include the groups suspected of recent kidnappings, would bring greater prosperity and security to the region.
Approval of the agreement has since stalled in the Philippine Congress, and the military has periodically fought intense battles against smaller rebel groups opposed to the deal. Military officials have said that the groups active in kidnapping are on the run and have expressed hope that the prominent abductions of the past two decades, which have been the subjects of books and international television shows, are over.
The new video was posted on Twitter on Sunday, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks terrorist activities online. The clip shows 10 masked men with automatic weapons and an unmasked man holding a machete to the neck of one of four hostages seated in front of them.
Three of the hostages, Robert Hall and John Ridsdel, both of Canada, and Kjartan Sekkingstad, of Norway, appear grim and make statements calling for military operations against the rebels to cease before negotiations for their release can begin. A fourth hostage, Marites Flor of the Philippines, is shown with the group but does not speak.
“To my family and friends, I am O.K., but I am in grave danger,” the man identified as Mr. Hall says. “I encourage you, please, to contact the Canadian government and ask them, plead with them to cooperate with the Philippine government to stop the bombings and the problems that are going on here.”
The four people were kidnapped by 11 men last month from the Holiday Oceanview Samal resort on Samal Island, off the coast of Mindanao, the Philippine military said.
Colonel Padilla declined to confirm whether the military was conducting operations against rebel groups in Mindanao, as the hostages say in the video.
Matt Williams, country director in the Philippines for Pacific Strategies and Assessments, a risk management and security firm that tracks insurgencies in the country, said the armed men in the video appeared to be members of Abu Sayyaf, a small but violent group that has kidnapped foreigners and Filipinos in Mindanao for more than a decade.
“Every indication suggests that the video is authentic,” he said. “It is important not to link these latest kidnappings in the Philippines with jihadi movements like Islamic State. The Abu Sayyaf are all about the money and have little time for ideology.”
Mr. Williams said that in the past, ransom negotiations with Abu Sayyaf have taken several years.
In a separate episode, Rolando del Torchio, an Italian who owns a pizzeria in Mindanao, was kidnapped by a group of armed men this month in the southern city of Dipolog. The police say that they have identified some of the kidnappers from closed-circuit security video and that they have not linked the incident to Abu Sayyaf.
Canadian hostages plead for their lives
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