Terrorism: Ransom money finance AQIM

Analyst, Western states paid millions of Euros

26 April, 14:00

(ANSAmed) - TUNIS, 26 APRIL - Several Western countries are to blame if Al Qaida in Islamic Maghreb not only extended its activities all over the Sahel, but also cast its sinister shadow on several other countries in Western Africa; indeed, Western countries decided to pay the ransom for their fellow countrymen and women who had been either directly kidnapped by Al Qaida or given to the Jihadist group by other groups. This is what Serge Daniel maintains in the book he wrote on this characteristic of Al Qaida in Islamic Maghreb, whose title is "AQIM, the kidnapping industry", a sort of Bible for those who try to clear out the mystery surrounding this blood-thirsty and very determined group and its activities of.

In an interview on the site Maliweb, Serge Daniel talked about some elements which, in his own opinion, are objective and cannot be questioned. Western countries are ready to pay several millions of dollars or Euros for the release of their fellow countrymen and women whose kidnapping is managed by AQIM. The analyst provides a long and detailed list of paid ransoms, there are also some "voids" which may raise suspicions. According to Daniel, in recent years money from Spain (between EUR 8 and 9 mln), Canada ("some millions"), Austria (between EUR 2.5 and 3.5 mln), Germany (five millions) has flowed in AQIM's cash. Italy is included in the list too: according to the expert, Italy paid EUR 3 mln for the release of its hostages. Switzerland's position is quite peculiar: although it was the only country which did not provide exact figures, Daniel labels Switzerland as "very generous with kidnappers".

A huge amount of money has circulated for all these years, although individual States have officially denied allegations and suspicions of having paid the ransom, they have actually created a way to negotiate with dangerous individuals, departing from the international principle which says "do not negotiate with terrorists". But what has Al Qaida in Maghreb done and continues to do with the money? It funds its complex organisation structure, it buys weapons and equips the men it chooses to populate its ranks. We are talking about actual hiring, because it is hard to think that all militiamen are driven by a religious motivation; it is far more likely that they are "mainly and simply" attracted by money. Daniel does not write about this in his book, he just mentions an episode: among Jihadists entering Timbuktu there were some young men from his own Mali city who had moved to Libya to work. It was just found out that the money they used to send home were directly taken form the cash of one of Al Qaida's Katibats (brigades) in Maghreb.(ANSAmed).

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