By Bakari Guèye
A kidnapped Mauritanian gendarme is the latest hostage to appear in an al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) video.
“We are ready to release the military prisoner on the condition that the Mauritanian regime releases two of our prisoners,” AQIM said in a statement issued with the video on Friday (January 13th),
Ely Ould Moctar was abducted December 20th during an attack on his police barracks in the eastern Mauritanian city of Adel Bagrou, near the Malian border.
The al-Qaeda statement described the attack by saying, “With Allah’s help, the Mujahedeen managed to attack the gendarmerie brigade in Adel Bagrou, and managed to seize the enemy’s weapons: 11 machine guns. With Allah’s help they took one gendarme hostage.”
In the video released along with the statement, the Mauritanian gendarme appears handcuffed in military uniform in front of an al-Qaeda banner.
“I beg President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz to intervene in my case, as he has done in the case of the Spanish Christians he exchanged for Omar Sahraoui,” Ould Moctar said.
He also appealed to two Mauritanian tribes to which he is linked, begging them to work to “speed up dealings” in his case.
Ould Moktar also spoke to the Mauritanian army in the video, asking them to “put Islamic sharia law above all other laws”.
“AQIM released this humiliating video to provide evidence that the hostage is alive,” according to Isselmou Ould Moustapha, director of the Tahalil newspaper and a specialist in terrorist movements.
He added that the terror group was reportedly seeking the release of Ould Mballa and Abdellahi Ould Ahmednah, a terrorist convicted in a 2009 aid worker murder in Nouakchott. “But most of all, through this video, AQIM wanted to try to sap the morale of soldiers in the Mauritanian army,” the expert said.
“AQIM’s generally well-informed sources are relatively effective, which has already enabled this organisation to neutralise special agents sent out to pursue it and more recently to snatch hostages from hotel rooms,” Ould Moustapha said.
But, on Mauritanian streets, support for the kidnapped gendarme is the order of the day.
A demonstration calling for the gendarme’s release was held outside the president’s offices January 12th by members of a movement calling itself “We are all Ely Ould Moctar”.
“An emergency unit must be set up to negotiate with AQIM so that this young innocent soldier fulfilling his noble duty can be released,” Bâ Abou commented. “International treaties demand that prisoners of war be treated in a humane manner. They apply as soon as prisoners are taken until the moment of their release or repatriation.”