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Captive Cruiser Beheaded in Philippines

Sixty-eight-year-old Canadian sailor John Ridsdel, who’d been held captive in the southern Philippines since September by Abu Sayyaf militants, was beheaded Monday after the deadline for his ransom had passed. Canada, like the US, has a policy of not giving in to ransom requests for its citizens.

Canadian sailor John Ridsdel was a world traveler whose boat was temporarily based at Samal Island prior to his kidnapping by Muslim extremists.

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As reported last summer, Ridsdel was an avid sailor based in the Philippines, where he worked as a mining consultant for Calgary-based TVI Pacific. In his earlier life he had been an award-winning journalist. 

Also kidnapped during the September 21, 2015 raid of the Holiday Oceanview Resort on Samal Island were Ridsdel’s Filipina companion, Maritess Flor, 50-year-old Canadian sailor Robert Hall, and Norwegian sailor Kjartan Sekkingstad, who was reported to be a manager of the resort. It remains unclear if these individuals were specifically targeted, but that seems unlikely based on the descriptions of the chaotic nighttime incident. 

Since the 1990s there have been occasional kidnappings for ransom by militants in the Southern Philippines. In 2014 the Philippine government signed a peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the country’s largest Muslim rebel group, but smaller groups in the southern portion of this 7,600-island nation, such as Abu Sayyaf, may be unaffiliated. 

Monday night, two men on motorcycles dropped Ridsdel’s head onto a town square on Jolo Island, shouting, "We will be back!"

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