In a statement just published on the usual jihadist online fora, AQIM via its al-Andalus media department claims the kidnapping of 5 Europeans and the displacement inside of Mali.
Interestingly, and most threatening for the hostages, is the claim that two Frenchmen among the kidnapped are “French spies”. The statement was published today, 12.12., but is dated to 7.12.
Two operations are claimed, first “in the east of Mali, the mujahideen were able to kidnap two men of the French intelligence”. The names, in Arabic transliteration, are provided with the claim of having conducted the kidnapping on November 24, 2011.
The second operation, on November 25, 2011, in Timbuktu led to the taking of the three other EU citizens whose nationalities are not disclosed in the statement.
In a third note, AQIM denies any attempt of kidnapping foreigners in Algeria at this time.
While France is the most visible enemy and threat for AQIM, the address and the demands are directed to the governments of Mali and France. The alleged French spies are just another episode in the “continued hostilities” of the respective governments “against the Muslims in the Sahel”.
French and US efforts in combating al-Qa’ida are always perceived and reproduced by the jihadist propaganda as a combined threat and a dual manifestation of the enemy.
AQIM therefore kidnapped foreigners in Mali and keeps them there to exercise pressure on r government of Mali and to punish it at the same time. Concretely, not demands, but issues of grievance prior to the kidnappings are issued:
1. The case of Muhammad al-Amin who was extradited to Mauretania;
2. The case of Abu Sa’id al-Azwadi;
3. Abu Yunus al-Mali;
4. The Mali-Mauretanian joint military operation agains the mujahideen;
5. The rebuilding of an air base inside of Mali used by France to fight the mujahideen by aerial means and measurements.
The statement concludes by the expression of grief, French participation in Afghanistan, the appeasement by Mali to the west by imprisoning and killing Muslims. “if you want the soonest release of our hostages, and to protect their lives, you must answer the legitimate demands of the mujahideen” as is addressed in particular to the government of France.