The friend of a former Saskatchewan man who was brutally killed by terrorists is speaking out with the hope that the other three hostages do not meet the same fate.
John Ridsdel was one of four people including two Canadians taken captive by a terrorist group called Abu Sayyaf while visiting the Philippines last September. The al-Qaida linked Islamic extremist group had threatened to behead one of the captives unless a ransom was paid by the deadline on Monday.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed that Ridsdel was the victim of a beheading, condemning the act as a “cold-blooded murder”.
Ridsdel lived in Calgary where he worked as a mining executive, but he grew up in Yorkton and also spent time working in Regina.
Still shocked by the news of his friend’s death, Don Kossick of Saskatoon joined News Talk Radio’s MainStreet program on Monday afternoon, to talk about his efforts to try to save him.
He started a letter-writing campaign asking the federal government to do something before the deadline passed. Kossick said he knew the deadline was Monday, but he thought they still had time.
“I thought we had some space there. There had been some really good messages being sent by Canadians to the Canadian government, and the Canadian government had indicated in replies that they were working on it,” he explained.
Kossick noted that he was disturbed when he read reports last week quoting a Filipino general who said not to pay anything to free the hostages.
“That’s what’s so hard to take in all this, I think there could have been some options,” he said.
While the standard policy is to not negotiate with terrorists, Kossick indicated that maybe the government should take another look.
“A lot of Canadian citizens could end up in the same situation, it wasn’t like they were part of any warring situation in the Phillipines – they got caught in the middle,” Kossick said. “It’s no fault of theirs that they were taken hostage and I think we have to figure out a way of looking at how to protect Canadian citizens abroad – these things can happen.”
He plans to continue his letter-writing campaign to attempt to help the other three hostages including Canadian Robert Hall, a Norwegian man, and a Filipino woman.
“We need to figure out a way of how to get them out without suffering the same fate as John Ridsdel,” Kossick said.
Sask. premier expresses sympathy for victim’s family
On Monday afternoon, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall released a statement in response to Ridsdell’s death expressing sympathy for his family.
“His life was taken away in a brutal act of murder by those with diametrically opposed values to the ones we hold.
It is hard to believe this could happen to someone who was raised in Yorkton.
It heightens our awareness to this global threat of terrorism that we ought never to take lightly. As a nation, we must always remain vigilant and bring individuals who wish to cause us harm, like those in this al-Qaeda linked group, to justice.
On behalf of the people of Saskatchewan, we offer our condolences and prayers for better days to come for the Ridsdel family and for the other hostages still at risk.”
with files from Canadian Press