Paying ransoms only encourages more Abu Sayyaf kidnappings: Indonesian VP

Indonesia’s vice president Jusuf Kalla has told shipowners not to negotiate or pay ransoms to release crew abducted by Abu Sayyaf, the Islamist militant group operating in seas in neighbouring Philippines.

Abu Sayyaf has taken more than 20 seafarers hostage in recent months, demanding significant ransoms.

“I am 100 percent sure the government has never negotiated in regard to money. But it’s possible the companies did. For the safety of their employees they have negotiated, but this has led to the [repeated abductions],” Kalla said earlier this week.

Paying ransoms encouraged more kidnappings, Kalla maintained.

Indonesia’s coordinating political, legal and security affairs minister Luhut Pandjaitan urged shipowners to use larger vessels when trading coal to the Philippines as a deterrent.

“The vessels that we use to deliver coal are rather small and susceptible to being hijacked. If we used bigger barges it would be harder [for other groups to take them over],” Luhut said.

The Indonesian government has also suggested owners put armed guards onboard.

Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines have vowed to up naval patrols in the Sulu and Celebes seas to fight Abu Sayyaf. Splash columnist Andrew Craig-Bennett has described the area as “the next Somalia”.


Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. “Paying ransoms only encourages more Abu Sayyaf kidnappings”
    Not paying ransoms only encourages more beheadings.
    For shipping companies and crew, it’s a no-brainer (pardon the pun).

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