Friday, 11 May 2012

Seven Algerian hostages up for ransom

Since last week's report, when it appeared that the seven Algerian hostages looked likely to be freed soon, their situation appears to have taken a turn for the worse. The alleged kidnappers, the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), which is believed to be an offshoot of AQIM and with leadership links to the Algerians DRS, is now demanding Euros 15 million for the diplomats, along with the release of prisoners held by Algeria. It is also demanding a further Euros 30 million for the three European aid workers abducted from Tindouf on October 22-23.

This new demand was made on Sunday 29 April by MUJAO spokesman Adnan Abu Walid Sahraoui during an exchange with AFP. Sahraoui said that negotiations with Algiers had broken down and that the lives of the Algerians were in danger.

This reversal comes after a MUJAO spokesman had told AFP that “we have agreed (together with the Islamist group Ansar Dine) to the release of the seven people arrested on Algerian soil [i.e. the Algerian consulate] in Gao.” Ansar al-Din is led by Iyad ag Aghaly has been closely linked with the DRS since at least 2003. This message was followed by a statement from Algeria's foreign minister saying that the seven were in good health, that Algerian authorities were in contact with the kidnappers, and that "we expect this will soon bear fruit".

The circumstances of the original abduction and the subsequent 'negotiations' are highly suspicious. Not only is the abducted Consul believed to be a DRS Colonel, but all the groups associated with the abduction and subsequent negotiations are known to have leaders linked with the DRS.

Some sources in Algeria believe that the situation is being manipulated by Algeria to provide for the justification, if necessary, of Algerian military intervention in Mali.

For more news and expert analysis about Algeria, please see Algeria Focus and Algeria Politics & Security.

© 2012 Menas Associates


  1. Dear mr Keenan, the problem has rather been the algerian reluctance or downright refusal to pursue their own terrorists on foreign soil, even when they were openly invited (by Mali, Niger) to do so.
    Further, when you write that all the involved people are DRS agents, does that mean that there are no other players in the desert? Only the DRS?