Sunday, February 22, 2009

Al-Qaeda holds two Canadians Prisoner

Canada's Foreign Affairs Department says it is sensitive to the audio tape played on the Al Jazeera television network regarding kidnappers holding two Canadian diplomats, but is being extremely cautious.

Mali claims Al-Qaeda's North African branch is demanding the release of two Mauritanian members. There is no self-sufficient way to confirm this report.

AFP, Agence France-Press, says Canada has enlisted the help of several countries, including Mali, to get aid in the release of Robert Fowler, the UN secretary general's special envoy to Niger, and his aide, diplomat Louis Guay.

On Wednesday last week Al-Qaeda confirmed it was holding the Canadians prisoner.

Mr. Fowler, 64, was a senior adviser to several Canadian prime ministers, starting with Pierre Trudeau, and played a leading role in thwarting the trade of so-called blood diamonds in Angola.

Along with arms, cigarettes and drugs highly trafficked items in the Sahara they have become a main source of revenue for AQMI, French term for ransom from kidnappers.

Both Canadians disappeared mid-December in Niger, while the four Europeans – two Swiss, a German woman and a British man – were kidnapped last month on the Mali-Niger border.

Mr. Fowler, Mr. Guay and their driver, Soumana Moukaila, disappeared in mid-December when returning from a visit to a gold mine. Their car was found abandoned about 50 kilometres northeast Nigers' capital, Niamey.

Mr. Fowler, 64, was a senior adviser to several prime ministers, starting with Pierre Trudeau, and played a leading role in thwarting the trade of so-called blood diamonds in Angola.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb is an Algeria-based militant group that joined Osama bin Laden's terror network in 2006 and conducts dozens of bombings or ambushes each month.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20090218.wfowler0218/BNStory/International


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