The ISIS rose to international “fame” for beheading hostages and capturing the act in videos. In the Philippines, a terrorist group have been doing this for decades, except that they do not release videos online. They throw the heads away, in streets or inside sacks.
Such is the horrific fate of Malaysian hostage Bernard Then who was kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf, a terrorist group that have been spreading violence in the Philippines since 1991. Then was kidnapped in Sabah and transported to Sulu island in the Philippines by boat, The Star Online reported. He was abducted with fellow citizen Thien Nyuk Fun who was freed early this month for satisfying the ransom asked by the militant group.
Then’s severed head was found by a street sweeper in a street near a local government building on Jolo Island in the Philippines on Nov. 17, southern police officials told The Star. It was inside a sack labeled with “Bernard Then Ted Fen.” His body was recovered in a nearby town, believed to be where he was hidden in the six months he was in captivity.
Since 1991, Abu Sayyaf was responsible for a number of beheading in the country. In 2008, the group beheaded a priest. In 2010, a teacher was the group’s victim. In 2011, the group beheaded five U.S. Marines. In 2013, it beheaded seven innocent people. The group thrive from extortion and when ransom is not paid, they cut the neck of their victims. It was also responsible for bombing a SuperFerry ship in 2005 which killed 116 people, according to a report from the Channel News Asia.
Just like the ISIS, the Abu Sayyaf have been fighting for an independent Islamic state in the Philippines. The name of the group was derived from the Arabic abu which means father of and sayyaf which means swordsmith.
Then’s head was turned over to the military for pending DNA tests, Major Junpikar Sitin said. The official said he cannot explain why Then was beheaded while negotiations for his ransom was still ongoing. According to intelligence reports seen by The Star, he was beheaded after the Philippine military amplified its operations against the Abu Sayyaf.
Abu Sayyaf was declared a terrorist organization by the United Nations, Australia, Canada, the UAE, the United Kingdom and the U.S. From 2002 to 2014, about 500 U.S. Special forces advisers trained and provided assistance to Philippine troops to fight the terrorist group. The assistance was reduced in 2014 since there were indications that its violent activities were neutralized. The group is estimated to have 400 members at present.