5 school-kids arrested in #Mauritania. Lock up your babies! [ar] http://snup.us/xFy
Lucky for us the Moor next door has Ely Ould Mohammed Vall nicely covered here, so there are no excuses for anyone falling for his latest political play in Mauritania. The enemy of my enemy can also be my enemy.
An Italian hostage kidnapped by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in Algeria and released in Burkina Faso after 14 months in captivity in the Sahara desert returned to Italy on Wednesday, a day after her release in Burkina Faso.
Looking visibly thinner, 54-year-old Maria Sandra Mariani was greeted by her son and sister at Ciampino airport in Rome. She was then taken to the prosecutor’s office and the foreign ministry for debriefings.
She is due back in her home town of San Casciano near Florence later.
“Maria Sandra Mariani is free. I have just informed her relatives. I join them in their great satisfaction and relief at this magnificent news,” Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi was quoted saying on Tuesday.
He also voiced gratitude for “all those who contributed to this result” and told reporters that Mariani had been held in “terrible conditions.”
Mariani spoke to her family after being freed and was quoted by Italian media as telling them: “I am in heaven, I am finally free!”
“I’ve thought of you a lot and I hug you all. I’m fine.”
She then boarded a plane that had been specially chartered by Italian authorities to take her from the capital of Burkina Faso, Ouagadougou, to Rome where she was set to arrive in the early hours of Wednesday.
Her father started crying on hearing news of her release and lawmakers in the Italian parliament burst out in a round of applause, media reports said.
“It’s official. My daughter Maria Sandra is free and coming home soon,” her father, Lido, said at his home in San Casciano Val di Pesa south of Florence.
Mariani said he expected his daughter back in her home town on Wednesday.
A high-level security source in Burkina Faso earlier told AFP that Mariani had been taken to a hotel following her release and was in good health.
“She is well despite the shock of what she has experienced,” he said.
Mariani was travelling as a tourist with a driver and tour guide when she was kidnapped in a remote area of southern Algeria on February 2.
The driver and guide were later released and said they had been kidnapped by “14 men riding in two Toyota trucks”, a security source said at the time.
In an audio recording aired by Al-Arabiya television on February 18, Mariani’s voice was heard saying in halting French that she was “being held by the Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the Tarek ibn Zyad battalion”.
In July last year, AFP in Bamako in Mali viewed a video of the woman given to negotiators in which she did not speak but was shown in a veil and pink robes, sitting on the sand with her hands crossed and guns in the background.
Italian foreign ministry officials kept tight-lipped on the circumstances of the release. A spokesman told AFP: “There was diplomatic action and intelligence action. There are details we cannot divulge.”
The foreign ministry also vehemently denied reports in some media that a three-million-euro ($4.0-million) ransom had been paid.
The spokesman said Mariani had been moved across two or three countries during her captivity but could not say which country she was last held in.
Italy’s International Cooperation and Integration Minister Andrea Riccardi said he would travel to Burkina Faso on Friday to thank the government there.
“This is a happy ending to a very long captivity, which has put Maria Sandra and her relatives under a severe strain,” Riccardi said.
Burkina Faso neighbours Mali, where Tuareg rebels and Islamist groups have seized the northern half of the country in recent weeks. A Swiss woman was seized by Islamists in the ancient Malian city of Timbuktu on Sunday.
Algeria’s foreign ministry said it was “delighted” by Mariani’s release.
“We are delighted by the liberation of the Italian national Maria Sandra Mariani and we ardently hope that other hostages held by various groups can be freed and returned to their families safe and sound,” the ministry said.
Another Italian national, aid worker Rossella Urru, was captured in Algeria along with two Spanish colleagues in October 2011 and is still being held.
A Malian source close to the mediators told AFP last month that they were being held by a group calling itself the “Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa” which had demanded a 30-million-euro ransom for them.
- Official: French hostages kidnapped by Muslims seized in Mali are alive (atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com)
- #AQIM kidnap, hostage swap, but where is #Mauritania gendarme Ely? (lissnup.wordpress.com)
- Terzi in Algiers: the lives of the hostages a priority (appablog.wordpress.com)
Hackers calling themselves “Anonymous Tunisia” recently broke into the personal email of Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali, releasing thousands of messages allegedly belonging to the head of government.
The April 8th attack, dubbed “Operation Tunisia Back” by the hackers, was announced on social media sites and YouTube. The group leaked 2,725 emails belonging to the head of government and other prominent Ennahda members. The breach came just a month after a series of piracy acts targeting Islamist websites in Tunisia.
The leaked documents included an email from Jebali to the Turkish Embassy containing an attachment with the biography of Foreign Minister Rafik Abdessalem and a message from a member of Ennahda to Jebali saying Tunisians could vote twice in elections, once abroad and once in Tunisia. Other messages included financial transactions, bank accounts and correspondence with some foreign ambassadors.
“We decided to publish classified documents of the Ennahda Movement, including personal email addresses, telephone numbers and bank transactions, in addition to financial receipts from during the movement’s election campaign,” Anonymous said in an April 8th audio message posted online.
Users of social networks re-posted the leaked documents on their own pages amidst the exchange of positions.
The hackers also threatened to publish secret data if the government did not respect human rights freedom of expression, and the online freedom in Tunisia.
The group is still holding onto a large portion of the secret government documents and announced that it would publish them in a timely manner.
Anonymous said it hacked Jebali’s email because the government had moved against protestors, ignored the issue of those wounded in the revolution, and appointed politicians loyal to Ennahda. The hack was also done to protest the government’s silence on abuses carried out by Salafists, according to the cyber activists.
Tunisians, for their part, had mixed reactions to the hack.
“I think it is forged data aimed at disrupting the government’s work,” commented Manal Amri. “Anyone can purport to be the head of government and compose communications and data, and therefore these hackers cannot be trusted.”
But Ali Snoussi said it was “very important for the group Anonymous to expose the excesses of political parties and exercise oversight over them so Tunisian citizens know what they are and choose better in the next election.”
“To an extent I was pleased to hear the news, because it shows that our young people excel at using and dealing with modern means of communication,” said Khadija Louati. But she added that it bothered her “that the prime minister cannot protect himself and his secrets, despite the existence of possible means”.
Anonymous is one of the largest groups of internet activists and hackers, consisting of members from across the globe who co-ordinate their activities through social networking sites. The group has no leader or hierarchy but operates under a common set of principles and logo.
In response to the Anonymous attack, Ennahda spokesman Najib Gharbi claimed that some of the information was false. “We do not condone piracy, because it is not civilised behaviour,” he added, saying the party intended to file a complaint.
In turn, Ameur Arayadh, chairman of the party’s political bureau, denounced the piracy operation against Islamists, saying that the practices were immoral and contrary to all laws and values.
“In any case, Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali is a public figure and has nothing to hide,” he added.
Last month, the Tunisian branch of Anonymous launched an attack against several Islamic websites, including the Ennahda Party page and the website of Hizb ut-Tahrir, which calls for the establishment of an Islamic caliphate.
“We are not against religion, for we are Muslims, but we stand for freedom in our country,” the hackers said in a message posted on social networking sites.