Saturday, November 20, 2010
The head of al Qaeda’s North African branch has released a purported audiotape saying France would have to negotiate personally with Osama bin Laden to secure the release of French hostages seized in Niger and that their safety hinged on the withdrawal of French troops in Afghanistan.
In a purported audiotape aired on the Arabic Al Jazeera TV station late Thursday, Abdelmalek Droukdel, the head of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), said the lives of five French nationals captured in a uranium mining town in the northern African nation of Niger in September depended on a French troop pullout in Afghanistan.
"If you don't stop intervening in our affairs and the oppression of Muslim people, and if you want peace for your citizens that we hold hostage, you must withdraw your forces from Afghanistan as soon possible according to a set timetable that you will announce publicly,” said the message.
A spokesman for the French Foreign Ministry said France was trying to establish the authenticity of the tape.
In a statement released Friday, French Foreign Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie said French policy would not be dictated by outsiders.
The latest message came days after French Defense Minister Alain Juppe told a French radio station that France was in contact with al Qaeda kidnappers holding the hostages, who are employees of French companies Areva and Vinci. [..]
Posted by Cole at 2:36 PM