Expatica news

Sahara kidnap mastermind arrested

18 May 2004

BERLIN – An Algerian terrorist who held 32 Europeans, including Dutchman Arjen Hilbers, hostage in the Sahara Desert last year has been captured in Chad, Germany federal prosecutor’s office said Tuesday.

Ammari Saifi, also known as Abdrrezak al-Para, was taken into custody in Chad along with one other man, the prosecutor’s office confirmed Tuesday.

The hostages, who included Hilbers and German, Austrian, Swiss and Swedish citizens, were abducted in February and March 2003 and held for three to six months. They were seized in separate incidents while travelling in the desert area of southern Algeria.

Algerian commandos freed 17 of the hostages in May 2003, killing their kidnappers. In August, 14 hostages were freed by their kidnappers and handed over to officials from Mali.

According to media reports, Germany paid about EUR 4.6 million to the kidnappers, who were members of an Islamic group, to secure the hostages’ release, which followed long and tortuous negotiations.

One of the German hostages died in the desert as a result of the ordeal.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: German, Dutch news