Al Qaeda threatens to kill hostage
Intelligence group finds web threats against a British hostage, while a Swiss hostage is also held in the Sahel.DUBAI - Al-Qaeda's North African branch threatened to execute a captive Briton if the British government does not release a Muslim cleric within 20 days, SITE Intelligence Group reported on Sunday.
The threat to kill the Briton came in a statement by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb posted on jihadist forums on 26 April, said SITE, a US group which monitors Islamist websites.
The authenticity of the statement could not immediately be verified.
The Al-Qaeda group, according to SITE, is seeking freedom for Islamist cleric Abu Qatada, currently held in a British prison.
"We declare that the organisation still holds the British tourist and the Swiss tourist until the achievement of our legitimate demands," SITE quoted the Al-Qaeda statement as saying.
The statement did not state the terms for the Swiss tourist's release.
In London, a Foreign Office spokesman urged the kidnappers to release the hostages.
"Hostage taking is never justified no matter what the cause," the spokesman told AFP.
"We urge all those holding hostages to release them immediately and unconditionally. We are aware of the report and it's being analysed."
Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure reportedly said on Saturday his country is trying to free two remaining hostages out of the six kidnapped by Islamic extremists in the Sahel region in separate incidents in December and January.
Two Canadian diplomats and two European women tourists were released on Wednesday and flown to the Malian capital Bamako, but Swiss Gabriella Greitner's husband Werner and a Briton, who was not identified, are still being held.
The remote Sahel region borders several countries and illegal activity is widespread.
Abu Qatada, whose real name is Omar Mahmud Mohammed Othman, was formerly considered Osama bin Laden's close assistant in Europe. He is fighting a deportation order to Jordan, saying he risks being tortured in his home country.
He had political asylum in Britain since 1993 and is wanted in Jordan for funding a terrorist network known as Reform and Challenge (Al-Islah Wal Tahhadi) which was dismantled in 1999.
AFP / Expatica