April 25, 2016 | Execution of Canadian Hostages in Philippines

On this day in 2016, Abu Sayyaf terrorists beheaded one Canadian and another later from a group of hostages they had seized in the southern Philippines.

Seeing a loved one held captive is one thing: seeing that person beheaded is something else.

JOLO, PHILIPPINES — As I was growing up in southwestern Ontario in the 1960s and 1970s I was originally a Boston Bruins fan (a hockey team in the NHL for those not up on their winter sports). This was indeed strange as that part of Canada was well entrenched in the ‘territory’ of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Furthermore, my family was even an outlier as my two older brothers were followers of the Detroit Red Wings and New York Rangers – nary a Toronto fanatic among us.

However, shortly after the great Boston Stanley Cup winning teams of the early 1970s I shifted my allegiance to the Montreal Canadiens and remain a loyal supporter of the ‘Habs’ as they are known. This was unheard of in ‘true blue’ Toronto land. Did it have anything to do with the fact that my entire family, with the exception of me, was born in Montreal? I don’t think so.

Switching allegiance is sometimes a very serious thing. In sports, perhaps, not so much but what about politics? Is it ok to stop voting for one party and start voting for another? Probably. After all there are such things as ‘swing voters’ who can play a big role in the outcome in elections. What about religions? People convert from faith A to faith B all the time, although in some instances doing so puts your life in danger.

Which brings me to terrorist groups. We have seen where a particular organisation decides to abandon its ties to one, larger, outfit and hitch its horse to another. These days the most frequent such move is where Al Qaeda (AQ) and Islamic State (ISIS) are involved.

The terrorist group known as the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) is one such entity. It was once closely affiliated with AQ but elected to migrate to ISIS (in 2014, essentially when Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announced the so-called ‘Caliphate’). The organisation has been around since the early 1990s and has been involved in actions against the Philippines military,  kidnappings-for-ransom, bombings, ambushes of security personnel, public beheadings, assassinations, and extortion.

One such act combined a kidnapping and a beheading. On this day in 2016 the group beheaded a Canadian citizen, John Ridsdel, and later carried out the same despicable atrocity against Robert Hall, another Canadian. Two other hostages were later released: all four had been seized the previous September from a popular resort in the southern Philippines. The Canadians were killed after the Trudeau government refused to pay a ransom.

Who beheads people in the 21st century (aside from antediluvian states like Iran and Saudi Arabia and the Communist dictators in the PRC)? Those who think they are carrying out ‘Islamic justice’ against innocent people (whom they see as infidels, of course). How do we deal with this lot?

We kill them when we get the chance, that is how.

April 24, 1975 | Hostage Crisis in Sweden

On April 24 1975, members of the German Baader Meinhof terrorist group stormed the German Embassy in Sweden in an attempt to get Germany to free incarcerated members.

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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