Al-Qaeda kidnapper extradited to Mali: judicial source

15th August 2010, Comments 0 comments

A Malian national convicted of kidnapping three Spanish aid workers in Mauritania last year and handing them to Al-Qaeda was extradited to his home country on Sunday, a judicial source told AFP. Omar Sid'Ahmed Ould Hamma, sentenced in Mauritania in July to 12 years in prison with hard labour for the kidnappings "was handed over to Malian authorities Sunday morning at the border at the request of his country," said the source.

The extradition comes less than a week after Mauritanian Justice Minister Abidine Ould Elkheir visited the Mali capital for talks on the threat posed by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the North African branch of Osama bin Laden's terror network.

A radical cell of AQIM which has already executed two hostages, a Briton in 2009 and French last month, is reportedly putting pressure on those holding the Spaniards to have them killed, sources said Saturday.

The group released 39-year-old Alicia Gamez in March but still holds Roque Pascual, 50, and Albert Vilaltam, 35, in northern Mali.

Hamma, also known as "Omar the Sahrawi", was convicted of kidnapping the three on November 29, 2009 while they were delivering aid on behalf of Barcelona-based group, Accio Solidaria.

AQIM has made millions of dollars from ransoms for kidnapped Westerners and drug trafficking across the Sahel region of North Africa.

© 2010 AFP

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