AQIM has claimed responsibility for the Mauritania gendarme kidnap, and is demanding the release of two prisoners in exchange.
There are about 20 prisoners held in Mauritania on charges related to AQIM membership at the moment, but the message did not specify any names. The other condition of returning Ely Ould Mokhtar is that he must not return to his work with the police force. News item: [Fr] http://snup.us/oaE
This is all very well, but Ely supports a large extended family on his earnings. To further complicate this potential exchange, the majority of the eligible prisoners have recently expressed an interest in negotiating their freedom under a rehabilitation program. There are however at least two more recently arrested who were previously released under the amnesty package but then experienced a “relapse”.
Mauritanian Activists Support Kidnapped Gendarme
The “We are all Ely Ould Moctar” initiative demands the release of the officer, who was taken in a daring raid on his police post near Adel Bagrou last month. AQIM’s “Al Vourghan” brigade, led by Algerian national Yahya Abou El Houmam, was reportedly responsible for the attack.
“The gendarme is the first man to be kidnapped on Mauritanian soil,” explained Aziz Ould Souvi, the initiative co-ordinator and manager of essaha.info. “This seems to be a new development in the war launched by terrorist groups against our country.”
The campaign, which kicked off January 1st, could include a protest march to the border city of Adel Bagrou and other rallies to express support, according to organisers. Activists are also using Facebook and other social media sites to show solidarity. More than 500 national figures signed on to the initiative in just the first 48 hours, organisers said.
“We are also demanding the terrorist organisation not to harm the gendarme,” Ould Savi told Magharebia. “As far as the humanitarian aspect is concerned, he deserves care, as in addition to being a security man who was doing his duty in protecting his country, he’s a father of a daughter and the only supporter of a large family. We hope to celebrate together his return to his family.”
Meanwhile, the gendarme’s mother, Fatimetou Mint Bake, told Magharebia while crying sharply that Ely was her only son. “I hope he will return to us safely. I feel very sad about his detention. His sisters are very worried because of his kidnapping,” she said.
For their part, the Mauritanian authorities have kept silent about the kidnapping of Ely Ould Moctar, with no statement issued and no press conference organised on his status.
Meanwhile, in a letter published by ANI, Salafist activist Ahmed Ould Heinna Ould Mawloud cited Sharia law in urging AQIM leaders to release the Mauritanian gendarme.
“I call upon you to safeguard his safety, to accept our intercession to get him back sound, safe and unharmed to his family,” Ould Heinna said. “I hope that these words will be well accepted by you, and that you’ll honour your brothers by accepting this intercession without any conditions and as soon as possible.”
Ould Heinna is the brother-in-law of Khadim Ould Semane, leader of the AQIM branch in Mauritania. He was arrested several times in 2005 and 2006 before he renounced violence and the use of weapons against Mauritania and its army. According to analyst and journalist Mohamed Mahmoud Ebou Lmaaly, who conducted interviews with Ould Heinna, he is “one of the Salafists who oppose violence”.
Ould Heinna’s message “is a clear indication that al-Qaeda is losing a lot of the people who were sympathising with it or at least were understanding its ideology that calls for violence”, according to journalist Mohamed Ould Ebidy Cheriv.”A call like Ould Heinna’s may make the terrorist groups think about releasing the detained gendarme as it’s a call supported by religious citations,” said terror analyst Hamadi Ould Dah. “At least, it will put them in an embarrassing situation in case the gendarme’s safety is endangered.”
“When a Salafist like that produces sharia argumentation for not harming a kidnapped Mauritanian gendarme, it means that al-Qaeda leaders resort to wrong interpretations of sharia argumentation to serve their interests in getting money for releasing civilians,” he said.
“This is the worst use of religion; when some people use it for harming other people and getting money,” Ould Ebidy Cheriv added.
- France Examines Alleged AQIM Threat on Hostages (abcnews.go.com)
- Review – Difficult fate awaits female hostages of al-Qaeda (arcanaintellego.wordpress.com)
- Terror fears rock #Mauritania town (lissnup.wordpress.com)
- Mauritania army raid killed al-Qaida group leader (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- AQIM’s Mokhtar Belmokhtar speaks out (thewasat.wordpress.com)