“Canada will not give into their fear mongering tactics...”
June 13, 2016 5:07 PM   Subscribe

Robert Hall, Canadian hostage, killed by Abu Sayyaf militants in Philippines. [CBC.ca] A Canadian man being held hostage for months by a militant group in the Philippines has been killed, sources say. Al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf [wiki] had warned it would kill Robert Hall today if it didn't receive a ransom of some $8 million. Sources close to the situation in Jolo, the island where the al-Qaeda-linked group is based, and within Philippine security confirmed Hall's death early Monday to CBC News.

- Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada [Justin Trudeau] On the Likely Death of Robert Hall [PM.GC.CA]
“It is with deep sadness that I have reason to believe that a Canadian citizen, Robert Hall, held hostage in the Philippines since September 21, 2015, has been killed by his captors. While Canadian officials are working closely with authorities in the Philippines to formally confirm Mr. Hall’s death, we have compelling reason to believe that reports to this effect are, unfortunately, true. The vicious and brutal actions of the hostage-takers have led to a needless death. Canada holds the terrorist group who took him hostage fully responsible for this cold-blooded and senseless murder. With the tragic loss of two Canadians, I want to reiterate that terrorist hostage-takings only fuel more violence and instability. Canada will not give into their fear mongering tactics and despicable attitude toward the suffering of others.

This is precisely why the Government of Canada will not and cannot pay ransoms for hostages to terrorists groups, as doing so would endanger the lives of more Canadians. We are more committed than ever to working with the Government of the Philippines and international partners to pursue those responsible for these heinous acts and bring them to justice, however long it takes. The Government’s top priority, and my own as Prime Minister, is the safety and security of Canadian citizens. On behalf of the Government of Canada and all Canadians, I would like to express my heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Hall. They have suffered a terrible loss, and this is a devastating moment for them. Our thoughts are with them as they mourn this tragedy. I would ask that the media respect their privacy, and allow them time to come to terms with their loss. Today marks yet another difficult day for Canada and for Canadians as we grieve as a nation for the loss of both John Ridsdel, who was killed on April 25, and Robert Hall.”
- Who was Robert Hall? 2nd Canadian executed by Abu Sayyaf in the Philippines [Global News]
Robert Hall, 50, was born in Calgary but lived in several parts of Western Canada doing a series of jobs that included selling insurance, welding and acting, according to the Globe and Mail. He sold most of his possessions to buy a sailboat, which he sailed from British Columbia to the Philippines, prior to being kidnapped last September. “He’s an adventurer,” his stepmother Catherine Dafoe Hall told the Globe. “He’s just always looking for the next thing.” Edmonton radio station 630 CHED confirmed Hall was retired and living in Spruce Grove when he left on his sailing trip to the Philippines. Spruce Grove is located about 11 kilometres west of Edmonton. According to multiple media reports, Hall had intended to sail to Thailand and had started dating Maritess Flor shortly before they were abducted.
posted by Fizz (31 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
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posted by Fizz at 5:10 PM on June 13, 2016


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posted by scaryblackdeath at 5:15 PM on June 13, 2016


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posted by JoeXIII007 at 5:47 PM on June 13, 2016


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posted by GuyZero at 6:21 PM on June 13, 2016


To Mr. Hall's family and friends: I wish you peace and sweet memories.

To the kidnappers: a short and abrupt end.
posted by easily confused at 6:22 PM on June 13, 2016 [8 favorites]


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posted by lalochezia at 6:58 PM on June 13, 2016


So sad.

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posted by foxhat10 at 7:19 PM on June 13, 2016


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posted by biggreenplant at 7:22 PM on June 13, 2016


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posted by bonobothegreat at 7:31 PM on June 13, 2016


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As an enthusiastic sailor and cruising wannabe, I'm so sad to see someone's adventure come to a tragic end.

Condolences to his family, and swift justice to his captors and killers.
posted by Artful Codger at 7:48 PM on June 13, 2016


Damn.

I know a few people who sail in south east Asian waters. I hope the Philippine government can get the bastards who did this.
posted by dazed_one at 9:44 PM on June 13, 2016


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I'm tending to agree with CBC commenters querying our no-ransom policy, if it's true, as they say, that there's no proportionally greater risk of kidnapping when ransoms are paid. And it makes sense if it is true; non-payment will only work if everyone's in it together. If other countries are paying ransoms, all obvious foreigners are going to be somewhat (and equally) vulnerable. Because I doubt passports are being checked in advance. Since some countries are paying ransoms, and not that many travellers are actually being kidnapped, we should have just fucking paid it.
posted by cotton dress sock at 10:02 PM on June 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


Well, regardless of whether paying affects kidnapping rates, it does fund terrorists. I of course feel badly for Hall, but that doesn't mean I can't see a reason paying leads to more terribleness in the world.
posted by axiom at 10:17 PM on June 13, 2016 [5 favorites]


Since some countries are paying ransoms, and not that many travellers are actually being kidnapped, we should have just fucking paid it.

That's only true if the money is only used to fund additional kidnappings. If, as seems likely, the money is used to fund non-kidnapping crime or terrorist activities then it may well be a bad idea to pay even if it doesn't reduce the risk of kidnapping.
posted by Justinian at 10:18 PM on June 13, 2016 [3 favorites]


If, as seems likely, the money is used to fund non-kidnapping crime or terrorist activities then it may well be a bad idea to pay even if it doesn't reduce the risk of kidnapping.

I'm sure we're funding it somehow or other, anyway, through one or another deal.

(Also the terrorists have to kill citizens of non-paying countries, in order to keep the pressure on paying countries.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 10:26 PM on June 13, 2016


(Ideally, we'd have a unified front.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 10:34 PM on June 13, 2016


First,

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Second, what countries pay?
posted by lauranesson at 10:42 PM on June 13, 2016


Most European countries save the UK.
posted by Justinian at 10:50 PM on June 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


Sky News citing a 2014 NYT investigation (SLNYT): allegedly, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Spain, France, Qatar, Oman, Israel. (edit: and Germany)
posted by cotton dress sock at 10:51 PM on June 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


Israel is an odd duck. They'll pay for return and then go out of their way to track down and kill everybody even tangentially involved, including any prisoners they traded in exchange.
posted by Justinian at 10:53 PM on June 13, 2016 [17 favorites]


Israel is an odd duck. They'll pay for return and then go out of their way to track down and kill everybody even tangentially involved, including any prisoners they traded in exchange.

Seems likes good strategy to me, leveraging the long memory of states as opposed to terrorist groups. Let them win the round for now. Hope it was worth it when they go to answer their phone in three years and it explodes.
posted by Mitrovarr at 12:03 AM on June 14, 2016 [11 favorites]


Most European countries save the UK.
The Dutch government certainly didn't do anything at all whatsoever to rescue Sjaak Rijke. They did pay for MSF worker Arjan Erkel but then sued MSF to pay the money back because insisted that they only loaned the ransom money to MSF.
posted by blub at 3:21 AM on June 14, 2016


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posted by Joey Michaels at 5:55 AM on June 14, 2016


"This is precisely why the Government of Canada will not and cannot pay ransoms for hostages to terrorists groups, as doing so would endanger the lives of more Canadians."

This would make a sound policy if indeed Canada adhered to it. However, we have a history of quietly paying ransoms, a fact that can't have escaped Ridsdel's captors:
Canada’s insistence that it doesn’t pay ransom has long been suspect. In 2009, an Al Qaeda group in Africa released kidnapped Canadian diplomats Robert Fowler and Louis Guay. The government denied it paid any ransom, but there was considerable speculation at the time that Canada had paid, even if indirectly.

In 2011, U.S. diplomatic emails released by WikiLeaks listed Canada as one of the countries that pays kidnappers. According to a U.S. embassy cable about Mali: “It is difficult to level criticism on countries like Mali or Burkina Faso for facilitating negotiations when the countries that pay ransom, like Austria and Canada, are given a pass.”
The Star: Why Canada's ‘no ransom’ policy fooled no one
posted by papafrita at 6:32 AM on June 14, 2016


Oh hey, we sometimes do? Hmm. Yeah, I guess it's the sort of thing one doesn't want to get around. Maybe we tried, and it didn't work out. (Maybe it's better to let the politicians and civil servants do their politicking and serving the best ways they know. But you do wonder about it.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 7:10 AM on June 14, 2016


(Also the terrorists have to kill citizens of non-paying countries, in order to keep the pressure on paying countries.)

They should sell them to other kidnappers for pennies on the dollar, like the zombie debts profiled on Last Week Tonight.
posted by dr_dank at 7:35 AM on June 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


I alsonthink we should retaliate against holding companies that allow ransom to be transferred to kidnappers in these situations without creating a paper trail. They're enabling the whole thing.
posted by Mitrovarr at 7:37 AM on June 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


Second, what countries pay?

A few years ago I was in Sabah, which is as close to Abbu Sayyaf as I fancy coming. I was gutted to read in the local English-language paper of a story of a Sabahan who'd been kidnapped. The story was on his release, upon payment of RM15,000. The poor bloke had been chained up in a hut for six months, while his family raised the ransom. I'll let the reader do the maths on that.

so:

Also the terrorists have to kill citizens of non-paying countries, in order to keep the pressure on paying countries.

...isn't quite right. The Malaysian government certainly weren't paying. I suppose it depends upon the nationality in question, and probably religion. Most (barely) Sabahans are Christian, I think, but I don't know about that guy.

I wonder if hardline stances by Western nations won't just concentrate the arseholeness on the nearby, less headline-worthy, population. Of course, the bloke in question wasn't murdered.

It's not like I took away some grand plan for solving this shit. Just here's a thing...
posted by pompomtom at 8:03 AM on June 14, 2016


This would make a sound policy if indeed Canada adhered to it. However, we have a history of quietly paying ransom

That's all well and good, but does the fact a ransom may have been paid in 2009 bind any and all subsequent governments from taking a hard line on ransoms? Obviously it would take some time for the message to get out if this is a new approach for Canada, which probably means some people will suffer for it in the meantime. I don't really know what the best way to deal with ransom demands are though, or whether this is the best approach or not.
posted by Hoopo at 9:00 AM on June 14, 2016


This sort of brings to mind the "Yes, Minister" episode where Sir Humphrey didn't like the word "bribe", but was OK with "retainers," "personal donations," "miscellaneous outgoings," etc. - we don't pay RANSOM, though ...
posted by milnews.ca at 10:04 AM on June 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm ok with a declared policy of "no ransom". I think it's important not to declare your citizens are easy marks, and also to serve as a warning to those who would go into dangerous areas without due regard for the risks.
posted by Artful Codger at 6:44 PM on June 17, 2016


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