Al-Qaeda’s North African branch has offered to free a British hostage in return for the release of Muslim preacher Shaykh Abu Qatada al-Filistini but warned London against handing him over to his native Jordan, a statement on an Islamic website said on Monday.
“The initiative to the British government is to release its citizen Stephen Malcolm, who also has South African nationality, if it deports Abu Qatada to one of the ‘Arab Spring’ countries,” said the statement from al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
“If Britain ignores this offer it will bear the consequences of handing Abu Qatada to the Jordanian government,” it added.
Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Yemen have seen changes of leadership after uprisings last year known as the Arab Spring.
The revolts have empowered Islamic movements who were often persecuted by previous governments.
Malcolm is thought to be one of nine Europeans, including six French nationals, captured by the al-Qaeda branch in Mali and Niger since September 2010.
It said in January it would execute them if France and its allies attack its bases in northern Mali.
The group has said the others are from Sweden and Holland.
Al-Qaeda’s General Command which is based in the border regions between Afghanistan and Pakistan and Somalias al-Shabaab which recently declared allegiance to al-Qaeda have also warned the UK government not to deport Shaykh Abu Qatada al-Filistini to Jordan.
Source: Index News and agencies