More than four years after two Canadian tourists were executed in the Philippines, authorities say the commander of the terrorist group responsible for their deaths has been arrested.
Read more: Militant who beheaded two Canadians still on the loose and investigators may have uncovered why
News that Abu Sayyaf commander Anduljihad Susukan is in police custody brought a little relief to Gord Bibby, the cousin of one of the victims, Robert Hall.
“I can’t say elation because there’s really nothing in this story that would cause me to happy but it’s certainly going to bring some closure — or at least we’re on the road to closure — for the whole family,” Bibby told the Roy Green Show on Sunday.
Two Calgary men, Hall and John Ridsdel, were kidnapped by the militant group on Sept. 21, 2015. They were brutally beheaded the following spring after demands for ransom were not met due to federal government policy.
Hall’s family has been critical of the government for not sending a rescue mission or doing more to help save the men’s lives.
They have also petitioned Ottawa to improve consular services and communication to families when Canadians are kidnapped.
The Canadian government considers Abu Sayyaf Group a terrorist entity. The organization, which emerged in the early ’90s, has links to al-Qaida and ISIS.
“Ostensibly, the group’s goal is the establishment of an Islamic state governed by Sharia Law in the south Philippines,” Public Safety Canada’s listing for the group states. “In practice, however, the ASG primarily uses terrorism for profit: kidnap-for-ransom, guerrilla warfare, mass-casualty bombings, and beheadings are particularly favoured tactics.”
Abu Sayyaf commander Susukan was recently turned over to police by the leader of a rebel group. He reportedly surrendered after severing his arm with his own grenade during a battle.
Susukan was served warrants for at least 23 cases of murder, six for attempted murder and five for kidnapping, Philippine National Police Chief Gen. Archie Gamboa said Thursday night.
The Associated Press reports Susukan helped finance the kidnapping of Hall and Ridsdel, who were captured on Samal Island along with a Norwegian man and Hall’s partner, Marites Flor. The two survived the ordeal.