Captors of French hostages deny ransom demand

8th September 2004, Comments 0 comments

BAGHDAD, Sept 8 (AFP) - The Islamic group holding two French reporters hostage in Iraq issued a statement Wednesday denying it had ever demanded a ransom for their release, as claimed earlier this week.

BAGHDAD, Sept 8 (AFP) - The Islamic group holding two French reporters hostage in Iraq issued a statement Wednesday denying it had ever demanded a ransom for their release, as claimed earlier this week.  

"The Islamic Army assures that the statement lifted from the Internet by the media and listing three demands on the issue of the French hostages, including a financial one, is false," the statement said.  

The denounced ransom statement, posted on the internet on Monday, told France it had 48 hours in which to agree to a recent truce offer by Osama bin Laden, pay a USD 5 million ransom and pledge not to get involved in Iraq.  

On Wednesday, in a second statement the Islamic Army in Iraq said it wanted to seize the son of the two men's driver after finding private documents on the hostages, including a photograph.  

According to the statement, the photograph showed the son, a 22-year-old, along with US Brigadier General Mark Kimmit, former deputy director of US-led coalition operations in Iraq.  

"This is why we have issued an arrest warrant against Ayman Mohammed Rifaat al-Jundi, a 22-year-old Syrian who is the son of the two French hostages' driver and appears on the picture with Kimmit-the-war-criminal," it said.  

"This is why we call on the mujahedeen to help carry out an investigation against him," the statement said.  

Contacted by AFP, the young man confirmed that such a picture existed but said it was a montage one of his friends had made on his computer as a joke and that he had left it in his father's car.  

An AFP photographer confirmed that the picture was most likely a montage.   Ayman's declarations effectively authenticate the statement.   

The same photograph was mentioned a week ago in an exclusive article by the French weekly Le Nouvel Observateur and reporting a conversation between one of its sources and a man close to the kidnappers.  

The fate of the French journalists, Christian Chesnot and Georges Malbrunot, is still unknown. They have been detained since August 20.

© AFP

 

Subject: French News

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