Fmr. Abu Sayyaf hostage blames Dutch man's death on lack of gov't effort

Ewold Hold
Undated photo of Ewold HoldPhoto distributed by Tawi Tawi Police

Ewold Horn's death in the Philippines can be blamed on the Dutch government, according to Warren Rodwell from Australia, a former hostage of terrorist movement Abu Sayyaf. The fact that the 54-year-old Dutch man was still a hostage of Abu Sayyaf after seven years shows that the Dutch government did not put enough effort into getting him released, Rodwell said to Dagblad van het Noorden.

Horn was abducted by members of Abu Sayyaf during a bird watching trip on the Philippine islands in 2012. He was shot dead on Friday when he tried to escape during a firefight between the terrorist group and Philippine government forces. 

Rodwell was abducted by the same group in 2012. He was released 15 months later. "It really seems that no effective attempts were made from the Netherlands to come to a dialogue with this terrorist group. Ewold was simply a forgotten story. If I had been in his situation, I would have been happy that I am not a Dutch man but a subject of a compassionate country such as Australia", he said to the newspaper. According to him, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has some explaining to do. "In my case and most other abductions by Abu Sayyaf, the responsibly for the negotiations lay with the embassy of the hostage's country and the foreign ministry."

The Australian man also called Foreign Minister Stef Blok's reaction to Horn's death laughable. "Asking your Philippine colleague for clarification is too little too late", he said to the newspaper. "The Minister should have been aware of developments in the abduction case, that government forces had located the abductors and were on their heels." 

A ransom of 100 thousand US dollars was paid for Rodwell's release in March 2013. A pittance compared to the 2 million dollars Abu Sayyaf initially demanded. Rodwell is convinced that the terrorist movement would have released Horn for no ransom, or a small amount as in his case. "The longer a kidnapping lasts, the less you are worth. Certainly as a middle-aged white man", he said.

Victor Taylor, a former welfare worker in the Philippines, agrees with Rodwell. He has been in contact with local rulers in the area where Horn was abducted and with members of Abu Sayyaf for years, and acted as an intermediary in the release of multiple hostages. Taylor offered his help to the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He  finds it unbelievable that Horn was still a hostage after more than seven years. "I am convinced that if we had done something, we could have made progress, but apparently the Dutch government did not want that. They will have to answer for their actions or for the lack thereof", he said, according to Dagblad van het Noorden.