We’re completely shocked by the front page news today, of unspeakable terror involving a Malaysian.
The outpouring of anger, disbelief, and outrage continues as more and more updates of the killing of Malaysian hostage Bernard Then by his Abu Sayyaf captors trickle in.
In case you missed it, Sarawakian Bernard Then, who has been held hostage by the Abu Sayyaf terror group since 15th May this year, has been killed in the southern Philippines. According to a report by The Star Online, he was beheaded by the gunmen at about 4pm on Tuesday (17th November) in the island of Jolo.
The group holding Then was led by Indang Susukan but it is not known which Abu Sayyaf leader carried out the killing but Then is the first Malaysian hostage to have been beheaded y the terror group. Brigadier-General Alan Arrojado, commander of the Joint Task Group Sulu, confirmed that the 39-year-old electrical engineer was decapitated.
According to Jolo-based social workers, the Abu Sayyaf plan to release a video of the alleged beheading soon.
Then was grabbed along with 50-year-old Sabahan Thien Nyuk Fun from the Ocean King Seafood Restaurant in Sandakan on 15th May. Thien was released on 8th November and has kept a low profile since her return to Sabah as she recovers from the ordeal.
In a separate report by The Star Online, citing intelligence reports from Jolo, Then was executed by the Abu Sayyaf faction following a week-long deadline given to meet the demand for higher random that was made during the release of Thien Nyuk Fun on 9th November.
Susukan’s group which also included Abu Sayyaf sub commanders Alden Bagade, Angah Adji, and Ahabsy Misaya had been insisting of a full ransom payment of 60 million pesos (RM5.6mil) for the 2 hostages instead of 30 million pesos (RM2.8mil) which was purportedly paid for release of Thien.
The body of Then, who was beheaded by the Abu Sayyaf terror group at about 4pm on Tuesday, was reportedly buried not far from the vicinity of Barangay Tanan in Indanan where he was mostly held during his 6-month-long captivity.
Brigadier-General Alan Arrojado said efforts were now being made to locate Then’s remains.
UPDATE (18th November, 1pm):
According to The Star Online, citing southern Philippines police officials, a severed head believed to be that of Malaysian hostage Bernard Then was found near a municipal council building in Jolo island.
Jolo police chief Major Junpikar Sitin said that a street sweeper found the head inside a sack with the words “Bernard Then Ted Fen” at Marina Street at Barangay Wall City in Jolo about 8:30pm on Tuesday (17th November).
“We have turned over the head to the military task force for preservation and DNA tests,” he said. Sitin added that the military doctors at the brigade camp in Jolo were now preserving the head pending a DNA test with Then’s family.
Meanwhile, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has taken to social media to condemn the murder, saying that he is “shocked and sickened” by the act:
I am shocked and sickened by the murder of our countryman Bernard Then and we condemn it in its strongest terms https://t.co/9oV1xgWN7N
— Mohd Najib Tun Razak (@NajibRazak) November 18, 2015
More details to come.
Our hearts go out to the family, friends, and loved ones of Bernard Then during this difficult time.