The tone of the press release is quite unusual and contrasts with the coldness of the communication of the Algerian soldiers. The intention is, it seems, to say out loud what was whispered in the corridors of power in Algeria.
Algiers is angry with Bamako and Paris. Very angry.
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Terrorist freed following “negotiations” in Mali
At the end of the day on Wednesday, the Algerian Ministry of Defense published a press release on its website entitled “Fight against terrorism. Arrest of a Terrorist in Tlemcen ”might not attract attention given the succession of such operations.
“The security services under the Ministry of National Defense apprehended, yesterday October 27 in Tlemcen [Ouest], the terrorist named Mustapha Derrar. This operation was carried out following a permanent surveillance of the said criminal from his entry via the national borders until the collection of information relating to his suspicious movements ”, explains the press release accompanied by the photo of the arrested man.
But on reading further, we learn that the arrested terrorist, who joined the armed groups in 2012, “was released at the beginning of October in Mali, following negotiations led by foreign parties which led to conclude an agreement, through which more than 200 terrorists were freed and a large ransom was paid to terrorist groups against the release of three European hostages ”.
Read also Mali: a long and very tortuous negotiation
The Algerian army therefore accuses the “foreign parties”, including Paris and Bamako, of having paid a “substantial ransom”, an element denied by the French authorities when the hostage Sophie Pétronin was released on October 8.
The Franco-Swiss humanitarian had been held hostage by jihadists in Mali since December 2016. She was released on October 8, 2020 at the same time as two Italian hostages, and the Malian politician Soumaïla Cissé. On October 12, the French Prime Minister, Jean Castex, denied any ransom payment, while, according to French media “in Bamako, we are talking about 6 million euros”.
“According to Lemine Ould Mohamed Salem, Mauritanian journalist and specialist in jihadist issues, the sum of ten million euros would have been paid to the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (GSIM)”, reports German international radio Deutsche Welle.
“These inadmissible practices and contrary to United Nations resolutions criminalizing the payment of ransoms to terrorist groups hamper efforts to fight terrorism and dry up its sources of funding,” commented the Algerian army press release. , using a language that is not very diplomatic and new in its operational literature.
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$ 58.1 million in ransom between 2008 and 2014
France is officially opposed to paying the ransoms against the release of the hostages. But the everyday El Khabar which makes the affair its “one” of this Thursday, reminds the revelations of New York Times in July 2014: “According to freed hostages and seasoned negotiators, the governments of Europe – in particular France, Spain and Switzerland – continue to be responsible for some of the largest payments, including a ransom of 30 million euros – about 40 million dollars – paid last fall to free four French detainees in Mali ”. According to the American newspaper’s investigation, Paris would have paid Al-Qaeda some $ 58.1 million in ransom between 2008 and 2014.
According to the Algerian daily Echourrouk, the recent visit to Algiers by the head of French diplomacy Jean-Yves Le Drian, in mid-October, was “intended to alleviate somewhat the sharp anger of the Algerian authorities after millions of euros paid by the France and the liberation of 206 elements of Al-Qaeda activating in the Sahel region, some of which are wanted by the Algerian courts, because they hold dual Algerian and Malian nationality ”. Small protocol detail: The Drian was greeted when he got off the plane in Algiers not by his counterpart, Sabri Boukadoum, but by the director general of the Europe department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mohamed Hannache. The atmosphere was not very warm.
As a reminder, Algiers is “the initiator of the proposal incriminating the payment of ransoms to kidnappers in return for the release of hostages adopted by the UN in 2014”, recalls the daily.
Read also Mali: the hostages Soumaïla Cissé and Sophie Pétronin are free