OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) — Relatives of a Canadian man beheaded by Islamic militants in the Philippines said Tuesday that they agree with Canada's policy of not paying ransom for hostages.
Robert Hall had been held hostage by the militant Abu Sayyaf group since September 2015. The deadline for a ransom payment passed Monday, and Abu Sayyaf released a gruesome video of Hall's beheading. It shows Hall in an orange shirt kneeling in front of a black Islamic State-style flag in a jungle area before he was killed. Officials in the Philippines have confirmed his death.
Hall's family said in a statement that every option to free him was considered and efforts to that end were "vast and exhaustive."
In the end, the family says it agrees with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's directive that money not be paid to hostage takers who seek to undermine fundamental Canadian values.
"Our family, even in our darkest hour, agrees wholeheartedly with Canada's policy of not paying ransom to those who would seek to undermine the fundamental values with which my father lived his life," the family statement reads. "We stand with the ideals that built this country: strength of character; resilience of spirit; and refusal to succumb to the demands of the wretched, in order to satisfy the bloodlust of the weak."
Another Canadian, former mining executive John Ridsdel, was beheaded by Abu Sayyaf in April. The fate of two other hostages from Norway and the Philippines who were abducted with Hall and Ridsdel from a small marina on southern Samal Island in September remains unknown, according to the Philippine military
Trudeau has steadfastly refused to entertain the thought of paying ransom to hostage takers. In the wake of Ridsdel's execution, he said Canada would never pay a ransom for the hostages in the Philippines, and last month persuaded leaders of the other G7 countries to reiterate their opposition to paying ransoms. On Monday, he reiterated that paying ransoms would put more Canadians in danger.
The family says it will remember Hall, a father and a grandfather who was born in 1949, as a self-made man who worked his entire life to raise his family above the hardships of his own youth.
Hall was born in Calgary, but lived various places in Western Canada. His family says he owned and operated many small businesses in his life, from a small engine repair shop to a pizza stand. He spent 25 years building his custom welding business, which specialized in everything from custom truck decks to aircraft repair. Outside of business he had a passion for flying, sailing and sports.
The family says he discovered the Philippines on one of his many trips abroad and called it his paradise on Earth.
"He loved everything about the Philippines. The people, he said, are warm and gracious. He took an active interest in his community and his neighbors, and coached a local soccer team."
The United States and the Philippines have both listed the Abu Sayyaf as a terrorist organization for carrying out kidnappings, beheadings and bombings. The group emerged in the early 1990s as an extremist offshoot of a decades-long Muslim separatist rebellion in the country's south.