Qaeda 'to free UK-SA man if cleric released'

2012-04-30 08:32

Dubai – Al-Qaeda's North African branch has offered to free a British hostage in return for the release of radical preacher Abu Qatada but warned London against handing him over to his native Jordan, a statement on an Islamist website said on Monday.

"The initiative to the British government is to release its citizen Stephen Malcolm, who also has South African nationality, if it deports Abu Qatada to one of the 'Arab Spring' countries," said the statement, which could not be verified, from al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (Aqim).

"If Britain ignores this offer it will bear the consequences of handing Abu Qatada to the Jordanian government," it added.

Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Yemen have seen changes of leadership after uprisings last year known as the Arab Spring. The revolts have empowered Islamists who were often persecuted by previous governments.

Malcolm is thought to be one of nine Europeans, including six French nationals, seized by the al-Qaeda branch in Mali and Niger since September 2010. It said in January it would kill them if France and its allies attack its bases in northern Mali.

The group has said the others are from Sweden and Holland.

Africa's Sahel region has become a haven for al-Qaeda-linked operatives taking advantage of the vast and lawless area, and is believed to have raked in millions of dollars in ransoms. Mauritania's army has launched a series of attacks on Aqim bases inside Mali in recent months.

Britain said this month it would resume plans to deport Abu Qatada to Jordan, where he has been convicted in absentia of involvement in militant plots.

The Jordanian preacher had been under virtual house arrest at his home in London since February, when he was freed from a British prison after a court said his detention without trial was unlawful.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled in January that he would not receive a fair trial in Jordan because evidence against him might have been obtained through the use of torture, though London says it has received assurances of a fair trial.

Under the deal struck with Jordan, Abu Qatada would be tried by a court used to hearing criminal cases and not a quasi-military body. The case would be heard in public with civilian judges and his conviction in absentia would be quashed.

  • Fred - 2012-04-30 08:39

    Pirates and rogues. They will get not an inch from the sane world. Not an inch.

      Ask - 2012-04-30 09:36


  • FeebleGastro - 2012-04-30 09:22

    Al Qaeda is a curse, set upon humanity by Islam, which makes Islam a curse on humanity. Islam, get your house in order.

      Ask - 2012-04-30 09:39

      With your attitude; you must be the offspring of someone that has been raped... I agree that Al CIAda is a curse... do you still eat with that mouth...

  • sechabavirgil.ndlovu - 2012-04-30 09:28

    What is a British-South African? There is nothing like that, its either he is a British or a South Africa, not Both.

      disturbedmikey - 2012-04-30 09:34

      he has duel citizenship ndlovo

      Fidel - 2012-04-30 09:45

      A settler!

      lloyd.robinson1 - 2012-04-30 09:49

      He holds both South African citizenship and British citezenship. Hes a South African who just like me went to live and work in London. After beeing there for more the 5 yrs he applied for residency. I know this beacuse hes a friend of mine.

      veldt66 - 2012-04-30 10:36

      Was he doing in Mali tell us then?

  • lloyd.robinson1 - 2012-04-30 10:07

    I follow this story very closely as the guy captured is a friend of mine. Has News24 consulted anyone before publishing his name??? I was under the understanding that the British & South African authorities did not what his name published in the media as it may put him at greater risk of harm from his captives if his name is widely known and publicised. In saying that this article hasn’t actually got his correct name to start with. I hope News24 has got some form of approval from authorities to publish the name. Journalism must be informative but required discretion when lives are at risk.

  • Hugh - 2012-04-30 10:13

    Sadly, if the West is to gain the upper hand they cannot give into this demand. As with all wars there will be colatral damage. What must be clearly understood that these people do not have the same concept of anothers life as the West.They use that as a bargining tool. An example of history. The VC and NVLA in Vietnam could never understand why the US was so interested finding the bodies of their soldiers. Their policy was that of sacrifice of life did not demand acknowlegement so much so that those Northeners families whose members were conscripted into the war were never advised of their deaths or allowed communication. In extreme Islam any non Muslim life has no value and therefore may be disposed of at a whim.

      Barefoot - 2012-04-30 10:25

      You call Jordan the west? clearly you have the same view of life as \Them\, calling a man's life collateral damage? so his life is not important so long as one man who could probably be replaced in whatever rank is arrested? i think he might also have a family who would love to see him alive.

      Ask - 2012-04-30 10:39

      Which comic books are you reading... I hope this issue gets resolved... with no loss of life... but I think the West is a bit trigger happy with the notion of 'Colateral Damage' - this only works if the there is a monetary gain... Please name your source from your following point... very interested to know... "In extreme Islam any non Muslim life has no value and therefore may be disposed of at a whim."

      lloyd.robinson1 - 2012-04-30 11:02

      @Barefoot, what I think Xenswim1 is trying to say is that on a broader picture this type of thing happens in war. Its unfortunate and sad but it happens. I dont think he ment his comment to be heartless or deminishing of his value or life. I know the American government has a policy that they do not ever pay randsoms to terrorists. Because if you do it once it sends the message to the hostage takers and every other person out their that if you take an American citizen hostage their government will pay. They would find themselves fighting endless battles of more and more American citizens getting kidnappen. However this case has nothing to do with American. It only involves the United Kingdom and South African governements. I imagine the UK has a very similar policy to the USA's of non negotiation when it comes to dealling with terrorists randsoms though.

  • ludlowdj - 2012-04-30 15:35

    of course we are talking about the same Al-Qaeda the US intelligence services say is finished.......just goes to prove that military intelligence internationally is a contradiction in terms. Don't negotiate with terrorists or other scum ever.

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