Sayyaf threatens to kill ‘Samal’ hostages

The Mindanao Examiner Regional Newspaper - - First Page - (MindanaoExaminer)

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“I am a Canadian citizen. I am being held hostage by Abu Sayyaf for 1- billion pesos. These people are serious and very treacherous. Take them seriously. Help us, get us out of here,” he said.

ISIL The SITE Intelligence Group also posted screen shots of the hostages and their masked captors standing behind them. The non- profit organization Terror Monitor also has photos grabbed from the video that showed the flag of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant ( ISIL) displayed in the background as the rebels chanted “Allahu Akbar” or God is great.

One of 10 captors shown in the picture did not cover his face, but is partly hidden behind the flag. The rebels also displayed their weapons, including a heavy machine gun and a 90mm recoilless rifle.

The Canadian newspaper National Post has quoted Prof. Zachary Abuza, a National War College expert on Southeast Asian politics and security, said “there was no evidence Abu Sayyaf was truly affiliated with ISIL. Rather, they are a gang that uses the imagery of terrorism to profit from kidnapping.”

“I think these guys are common thugs, there’s nothing Islamist about it,” Abuza said. Abu Sayyaf’s recent pledge of allegiance to ISIL was nothing more than an attempt to gain international media attention and “raise the ante,” he said.

Abuza further said that he believes Abu Sayyaf has been watching ISIL videos in order to mimic them. “They’ve been online, they’ve seen things, they’ve stepped up their game,” he said.

The report said while the video had the look of one by ISIL, the demands were tellingly focused solely on money rather than Western foreign policy or military deployments. The hostages will be an early challenge for incoming Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Cabinet appointees in the public safety and foreign affairs portfolios. Canadian Embassy The Independent Strategy and Intelligence Study Group, citing unnamed sources in the Philippines’ National Intelligence Coordinating Agency, claimed that one of the Canadian hostages contacted the Canadian Embassy in Manila to give proof of life and to inform his country’s Ambassador that all of the hostages are alive.

It said the Abu Sayyaf – Tanum Group has informed the Canadian government that they will start beheading hostages if the military does not cease their combat operations on Sulu – specifically mentioning the ongoing artillery barrages occurring near their positions.

“The threat is a hollow one for the simple fact that ASG -Tanum Group wants to get paid. The reason why they issued the threat is because they know Canada is a weak nation that will cave into their demands. With that in mind, ASG is banking on the Canadian government responding by pressuring the Government of the Philippines into ceasing military operations on Sulu,” said Independent Strategy and Intelligence Study Group.

The Philippine military has not released any statement on the Abu Sayyaf demand and its threat to kill the hostages, but security forces continue its operation against the rebel group in Sulu and that several clashes had been reported in the past recent weeks.

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