Algeria seizes $98,000 France ransom to Al Qaeda terrorist group
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The Algerian army’s discovery of €80,000 ($98,200) in terrorist hideouts has revealed the serious threat posed by France’s payment of ransoms in exchange for the release of hostages.
On 28 December, the Algerian army carried out a preventive military operation to hinder attempts made by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) fighters from rallying after the murder of the group’s leader, Abdelmalek Droukdel, last June in northern Mali.
During the operation, the army eliminated three members of the terrorist organisation and seized part of the ransom money.
Algeria accuses France of providing between €10-€30 million as ransom to Jama’at Nasr Al-Islam wal Muslimin, which includes AQIM as one of its four wings.
Last October, 207 suspected terrorists were arrested by the Malian authorities in exchange for the release of four hostages, including a French woman.
Paris denied Algerian accusations that it had paid a ransom to terrorist groups to free the four hostages, including Sophie Petronin, with Prime Minister Jean Castex saying on 12 October: “We were not part of the ransom negotiations.”
Algeria believes France’s readiness to provide payoffs to terrorists violates the United Nations resolution criminalising the payment of ransoms issued in 2014.
“It seems that the payment of ransom for the release of Western hostages in the Sahel region is a routine procedure that is carried out in most cases with no official confirmation or comment on its accuracy,” said French newspaper Jeune Afrique.
Algerian authorities believe the ransom that France paid to terrorists will negatively affect Algeria’s internal security and stability, as terrorist groups will exploit this fact to intensify their activities in the Sahel region by buying arms and recruiting more members from poor and marginalised areas.