The kidnappers’ ultimatum expires today
Austria negotiating directly with Al-Qaeda
El Khabar, 16 mars 2008
The commander of Counter-Terrorism Police in Salzburg, the native city of the two Austrian hostages, disclosed that Austria has set contacts with Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
Counter-Terrorism Police commander told the Austrian Radio that Authorities are pursuing efforts to find a solution for “this critical issue,” while managing setting contacts with the kidnappers, without disclosing any results.
Counter-terrorism commander further said that Austrian investigators are attempting localizing the place where the two hostages are being detained through phone calls, indicating that they are likely in Tunisia or Algeria or Mali.
In this context, Austria is trying “pacifying” followers of Sahara region Emir, Yahia Abu Amar, through emphasizing “on the good relationships of the two hostages with Muslim nationals in Austria,” hoping that Al-Qaeda would accept a money ransom instead of conditions being listed previously, which Austria said enable to meet.
Furthermore, the two hostages’ family members have called kidnappers, through some TV Channels releasing them, while Austrian sources said the family members have made a video record of their demand that would be transferred to kidnappers.
However, some sources reported that Austrian Authorities have likely requested extending the three days ultimatum set by Al-Qaeda, knowing that it expires today at midnight.
By A.K/ Translation A.A
Muslim Scoolars Assoctiation calls kidnappers releasing the two hostages
PM Belkhadem: “Algeria not concerned with the kidnapping issue”
El Khabar, 16 mars 2008
Prime Minister Abdelaziz Belkhadem said Algeria “is not concerned” with the kidnapping issue because “it did not happened inside Algerian territories,” while implicitly disclosing contacts being established with Austrian Authorities to end the crisis that reaches its 26th day.
Belkhadem indicated that the kidnapping of the two Austrian nationals “didn’t take place inside Algerian territories, thus Algeria is not concerned with this issue at all.”
Furthermore, El Khabar has asked the PM whether Algerian Authorities are to deal positively with Al-Qaeda conditions, he said: “the kidnapping took place in a non-Algerian territory, and we heard that the two hostages are detained in another country, rather than Algeria.”
Mr. Belkhadem has further denied security information confirming the two Austrians are being detained inside Algeria.
He said: “we don’t acquire proves they are detained in our country.”
However, observers said Belkhadem’s statements are a direct message to Tunisian Authorities who made sure denying the kidnapping being taken place on its territories as soon as Al-Qaeda claimed it.
Meanwhile, the Algerian Muslim Scholars Association has called Al-Qaeda releasing the Austrian hostages.
The Association said in a communiqué released yesterday, of which El Khabar got a copy: “we call the kidnappers releasing the two hostages and let them joining back safely there families.”
By H.Y/ Translation A.A