Hamas-linked CAIR is also working to free the “Pakistani scientist convicted of shooting at two U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan,” Aafia Siddiqui. What a coincidence that they’d have the same goal as these murderous jihadists.
“‘Battalion of Blood’ gunmen had one aim… to ‘kill infidels and Christians’: American and up to TWELVE Brits among hostages killed in botched raid on Al Qaeda gang at Algerian gas field,” by Tim Shipman, David Williams and Beth Stebner for the Daily Mail, January 18 (thanks to Pamela Geller):
Islamist militants are offering to free two American hostages held captive at an Algerian gas field in exchange for the release of two renowned terrorists jailed in the United States.
The attempt to negotiate comes after a US citizen and up to 12 Britons, who were kidnapped with dozens of other foreign oil workers on Wednesday, were killed in a botched rescue mission by Algerian forces.
As many as 60 foreign hostages remain unaccounted, as the bloody siege continues into its third day, though Algeria’s news service said some could be hidden throughout the sprawling desert site.
Yesterday’s air raid, which was carried out in Algerian helicopters and special forces without the prior knowledge of the US government, was meant to wipe out the al-Qaeda-linked militants and free the 132 foreigners from at least 10 countries who were being held, but instead left scores of people dead, injured or missing.
Militants said seven Americans had been taken hostage and it was reported that two of them escaped unharmed yesterday.
The Associated Press said today that kidnappers wanted to swap two American hostages still in captivity for two prominent terror figures in jail in the US, according to a Mauritanian website.
One of the two terrorists the captors want freed is Omar Abdel Rahman, who masterminded the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. The other is a Pakistani scientist convicted of shooting at two U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.
‘The Blind Sheikh’, as Abdel Rahman is often known, is currently serving a life sentence at the Butner Federal Correctional Institution in Butner, North Carolina.
The offer, according to a Mauritanian news site that frequently broadcasts dispatches from groups linked to al-Qaida, came from Moktar Belmoktar, an extremist commander based in Mali who apparently masterminded the operation.
Five other Americans who had been at the vast Ain Amenas complex were able to avoid being taken captive when the terrorists first attacked early on Wednesday. Neither the Obama administration nor the British government was aware of the Algerian military’s raid ahead of time.
Algeria’s news service said special forces had resumed negotiations with militants today as foreign leaders scrambled to find out the fates of their citizens….
Instead of freeing the dozens of hostages, the raid resulted in bloody chaos at the isolated plant 800 miles south of the capital, Algiers, leaving the fate of many of the captives and the fighters uncertain. In launching its assault, Algeria also ignored offers of help from the SAS and American special forces.
‘We asked them not to go in with all guns blazing and they just did it anyway,’ said one London official. ‘They insisted this was their sovereign territory and it was their operation.’
French sources said the decision to go in was taken because the terrorists were executing hostages. Last night, after a fierce day of fighting, Algerian officials said the rescue operation was over. They said Tahar Ben Cheneb, a prominent commander in the region, was among the dead militants.
The 11 bodies of gunmen found on Thursday comprised three Egyptians, two Tunisians, two Libyans, a Malian and a Frenchman and all were assumed to have been hostage-takers, a security source told Reuters. Algeria state news agency APS said the group had planned to take the hostages to Mali.
On Friday, the source said 18 militants had now been found dead.
A source said yesterday that 30 hostages were killed, of whom the nationalities of 15 had been established. Of these, eight were Algerian and seven were foreigners, including two British, two Japanese and a French national. One Briton was killed when the terrorists seized the gas compound on Wednesday. The number of foreigners unaccounted for and feared dead is now at 60….
The Obama administration appeared to be in the dark on Thursday about the hostage situation at the natural gas plant deep in the Sahara Desert. An administrative official told the Associated Press that the U.S. was not aware of the raid to free the hostages in advance.…
Ahead of the raid, U.S. officials had been urging the Algerians to be cautious in their actions, but did not know a rescue mission was planned, said the administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.
Militants earlier said they were holding seven Americans, but the administration confirmed only that Americans were among those taken….
A local worker said from his home on Thursday that the Islamist gunmen of the “˜Battalion of Blood” told the terrified staff that they would not harm Muslims but would kill ‘Christians and infidels.’
Algerian security specialist Anis Rahmani told Reuters about 70 militants were involved from two groups, Belmokhtar’s ‘Those who sign in blood,’ who travelled from Libya, and the lesser known ‘Movement of the Islamic Youth in the South.’
Funny how these people who totally misunderstand Islam — as Muslim spokesmen in the U.S. constantly insist — always stress their Islamic identity.
‘They were carrying heavy weapons including rifles used by the Libyan army during (Muammar) Gadaffi’s rule,’ he said. ‘They also had rocket-propelled grenades and machineguns.’
Last night, as the military operation to rescue those captured continued, a local worker revealed how the militants appeared to have a clear strategy for their prisoners — some of whom even ended up having explosives strapped to their chest.
‘The terrorists told us at the very start that they would not hurt Muslims but were only interested in the Christians and infidels,’ Abdelkader, 53, told the Mail from his home in the nearby town of In Amenas. ‘”We will kill them,” they said.’
The U.S. government sent an unmanned surveillance drone to the BP-operated site, near the border with Libya and 800 miles (1,290 kilometers) from the Algerian capital, but it could do little more than watch Thursday’s intervention. Algeria’s army-dominated government, hardened by decades of fighting Islamist militants, shrugged aside foreign offers of help and drove ahead alone.
With the hostage drama entering its second day Thursday, Algerian security forces moved in, first with helicopter fire and then special forces, according to diplomats, a website close to the militants, and an Algerian security official. The government said it was forced to intervene because the militants were being stubborn and wanted to flee with the hostages.
The militants “” led by a Mali-based al-Qaida offshoot known as the Masked Brigade “” suffered losses in Thursday’s military assault, but succeeded in garnering a global audience….
The hostage-taking raised questions about security for sites run by multinationals that are dotted across Africa’s largest country. It also raised the prospect of similar attacks on other countries allied against the extremist warlords and drug traffickers who rule a vast patch of desert across several countries in northwest Africa. Even the heavy-handed Algerian response may not deter groups looking for martyrdom and attention.
Casualty figures in the Algerian standoff varied widely. The remote location is extremely hard to reach and was surrounded by Algerian security forces “” who, like the militants, are inclined to advertise their successes and minimize their failures.
‘An important number of hostages were freed and an important number of terrorists were eliminated, and we regret the few dead and wounded,’ Algeria’s communications minister, Mohand Said Oubelaid, told national media, adding that the ‘terrorists are multinational,’ coming from several different countries with the goal of ‘destabilizing Algeria, embroiling it in the Mali conflict and damaging its natural gas infrastructure.’
The official news agency said four hostages were killed in Thursday’s operation, two Britons and two Filipinos. Two others, a Briton and an Algerian, died Wednesday in an ambush on a bus ferrying foreign workers to an airport. Citing hospital officials, the APS news agency said six Algerians and seven foreigners were injured.
APS said some 600 local workers were safely freed in the raid “” but many of those were reportedly released the day before by the militants themselves.
The militants, via a Mauritanian news website, claimed that 35 hostages and 15 militants died in the helicopter strafing. A spokesman for the Masked Brigade told the Nouakchott Information Agency in Mauritania that only seven hostages survived….
An unarmed American surveillance drone soared overhead as the Algerian forces closed in, U.S. officials said. The U.S. offered military assistance Wednesday to help rescue the hostages but the Algerian government refused, a U.S. official said in Washington. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the offer….
The militant group believed to be holding the hostages has claimed that it carried out the attack in retaliation for the French military intervention against Al Qaeda-backed rebels in neighbouring Mali.
Jihadis always say they’re retaliating for some Infidel provocation. This is partly to shift responsibility for their violence onto their victims, but also because, in the absence of a caliph, only defensive jihad is legitimate according to Islamic law. Thus all jihads have to be justified as defensive.