The Islamist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), hidden in jungle redoubts on southern Filipino islands in Sulu, beheaded John Ridsdel, a Canadian hostage yesterday. “Ridsdel’s head, which was placed in a plastic bag, was dumped by motorcycle-riding militants Monday night in Jolo town in impoverished Sulu, about 950 kilometres south of Manila,” CBC News reported.
ASG has been engaged in conflict with the Filipino government for over 20 years, and maintains ties to Jemaah Islamiah (JI) in Indonesia, and perhaps even ISIS off shoot groups. Although ASG numbers in only 500 or so fighters, widespread corruption in the Philippines has resulted in tip offs to the terrorist organization from politicians and government officials prior to military raids.
Although the Filipino government has vocally responded to the recent beheading with bluster and bravado, this is not the first time that such promises have been made to wipe ASG off the map. SOFREP sources have reported that there are no movements of military forces at this time. This is due to the upcoming presidential elections in two weeks.
The last thing that political leaders want at the moment is a repeat of last years Oplan Wolverine in which US Special Forces trained Filipino commandos took out a Singaporean member of JI named Marwan. The Special Action Force (SAF) moved in and eliminated Marwan around 3AM on January 25th, 2015 but then got hit hard by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) who were allied with JI. SAF police officers were pushed into a cornfield with a river at their backs, dozens of them killed during a 13-hour firefight.
The Filipino government also has to strike a delicate balance with the United States government, hedging fears of neo-colonialism which may emerge with too much of an American military presence against aggressive Chinese military expansion in the South China Sea. Whoever is elected as the next president of the Philippines will no doubt have to manage this situation, facing down Islamist terrorists in the south, while finding ways to counter Chinese militancy less than 100 kilometers off their own shores.
Meanwhile, Canada’s hand wringing liberal government under Justin Trudeau claims that their country has no capacity to conduct hostage rescue missions in the Philippines, a blatant falsehood as Canada’s JTF2 has this mission.