Two Canadian hostages have surfaced in a video to make a “final urgent appeal” for their government to save them from imminent decapitation by the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL)-linked jihadist group Abu Sayyaf in the Philippines.
In a video that emerged Friday, the two Canadians, identified as John Ridsdel and Robert Hall, speak directly to the camera with machetes pressed against their throat, reports Canada’s National Post.
Filipino woman Marites Flor and Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad are also being held captive.
“We’re told this is the absolute final warning, the final urgent appeal to governments — Philippine, Canadian — and families,” Riddle reportedly says. “If 300 million [Philippine pesos, or $8.3 million] is not paid for me by 3 p.m. on April 25th, they will behead me.”
Echoing Ridsdel, Hall adds, “My specific appeal is to the Canadian government, who I know has the capacity to get us out of here. I’m wondering what they’re waiting for.”
The two-minute video concludes with a masked militant reiterating the April 25 deadline, warning that if it is ignored, “We will certainly behead one of these four.”
Ridsdel, Hall, Sekkingstad, and Flor were all taken hostage on September 21, when armed members of Abu Sayyaf stormed the Holiday Ocean View Samal Resort off the southern coast of Mindanao, notes The Toronto Star.
The Norwegian worked as the resort’s manager.
Referring to a previous deadline that had not been met, a masked jihadist, speaking directly to the camera, says that the “deadline of warning is over.”
“Still, you procrastinate. So now this is already an ultimatum. Once you don’t meet the demand, we will certainly behead one amongst this four,” he adds.
The jihadists are asking for an estimated 1 billion Philippine pesos (nearly $22 million) in ransom by April 25. If they do not receive the money, the hostages will be decapitated, warns the video.
The Canadian government is aware of the video, said a spokeswoman for Global Affairs Canada, adding that she could not elaborate further or release information that could “compromise ongoing efforts or endanger the safety of Canadian citizens,” Canada’s Global NEWS reports.
“I appeal to my family, the Philippine government, and the Canadian government,” Canadian Hall declares. “My specific appeal is to the Canadian government who I know has the capacity to get us out of here. I wonder what they are waiting for.”
The four hostages have appeared in other videos where their captors demand millions in ransom.
On March 10, Abu Sayyaf reportedly released a video showing Ridsdel speaking in a direct plea to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“Do as needed to meet their demands within one month or they will kill me,” he said.
In the video released Friday, the hostages appear to be sitting on the ground in a wooded area surrounded by heavily armed jihadists wearing dark clothing. Some of the captors are wearing masks.
The three male hostages take turns reciting similar messages.
National Post points out that Abu Sayyaf was formed in the early 1990s with monetary aid from al-Qaeda.
“Abu Sayyaf is a collection of autonomous gangs spread across the jungles of the Sulu Archipelago with poor communications and no centralized leadership,” it adds.
Four Indonesian crew members of a tugboat were taken hostage by the Filipino jihadist group recently. Pictures of the hostages were posted on Facebook.
Canada, the United States, and various other countries have deemed Abu Sayyaf a terrorist group.