Straying a little. Not too far though because it's about bin Laden, a man that took up a great deal of Kirk von Ackermann's time and efforts as an intelligence officer in counter terrorism at DO5.
The Combatting Terrorism Center at West Point recently released a series of letters found with Osama bin Laden. Several of the letters discuss matters in regards to hostages - including bin Laden's own daughter Fatima, held by Iran.
In one letter, the author makes reference to French hostages. There is a curious discrepancy and I am not sure what to make of it.
Letters from Abbottabad: Bin Ladin Sidelined?The document in question is letter SOCOM-2012-0000010 said to be dated April 26, 2011. The author of the letter refers to a French ‘woman’ who is held hostage by the Islamic Maghreb. Seven people, including a husband and wife, were abducted by Islamic Maghreb in Niger near a uranium mine on September 16, 2010. Francoise Larribe is the wife of one of the French workers – she was released February 24, 2011. Her plight as a hostage received media attention as she had cancer and needed medications.
Authors: Nelly Lahoud, Stuart Caudill, Liam Collins, Gabriel Koehler-Derrick, Don Rassler, Muhammad al-`Ubaydi
Harmony Program The Combatting Terrorism Center at West Point
May 3, 2012
PDF file of the Report - 64 pages
PDF file of the Letters English
PDF file of the letters Arabic
By April 26, 2011, two months after her release, the author of the Letter SOCOM-2012-0000010 should have known she was free. Her release was well-publicized including a visit to meet with French President Nicholas Sarkozy with whom she was photographed on February 27, 2011 at the Elysee Palace.
Summary of the Letter
From: Abu `Abdallah (Usama bin Ladin)
To: Shaykh Mahmud/`Atiyya
Date: Monday, 22 Jumadi al-Awwal 1432 (25 April 2011)
Description:English Translation of the Passage in the Letter
This letter is authored by “Abu `Abdallah” (Usama bin Ladin), addressed to “Shaykh Mahmud” (`Atiyya) and dated 26 April 2011 – a week before bin Ladin’s death [May 2, 2011]. In it, Bin Ladin outlines his response to the “Arab Spring,” proposing two different strategies. The first strategy pertains to the Arab World and entails “inciting people who have not yet revolted and exhort[ing] them to rebel against the rulers (khuruj ‘ala al-hukkam)”; the second strategy concerns Afghanistan and it entails continuing to evoke the obligation of jihad there. The letter also makes reference to a wide variety of topics including: the scarcity of communications from Iraq, “the brothers coming from Iran,” and hostages held by “our brothers in the Islamic Maghreb” and in Somalia. The document also briefly discusses Bin Ladin’s sons, his courier, Shaykh Abu Muhammad (Ayman al-Zawahiri), and other individuals of interest.
As far as the French hostages with our brothers in the Islamic Maghreb, I want to warn that the atmosphere after the French standing towards the Libyan people does not condone killing the French, due to what will follow of negative reflections, after it became evident that most of the common people are supporting Sarkozy, so if we need to kill them then that should be after the end of Libyan events and their developments, and the better benefit as far as I see is to exchange the woman with the best that would benefit you and the brothers there, as far as the men, if the brothers can wait, then they should keep them until the elections, and if that is difficult then they should exchange half of them and keep the other half which should be the higher ranking and the more important ones, and if that also is difficult then they should at a minimum keep the most important man of them till the French elections, and it is better that the negotiations not be public and that they place a time limit on it so that the French do not postpone the exchange till the elections (TN: possibly after the elections) so that it's a winning card in their hands, even though the remaining period to the election is not that short.From what has been written about bin Laden, he had access to news reports. There are photos of him watching television. Assuming bin Laden was the author, how did he not know Francoise Larribe was no longer a hostage and already released?
A random article about the hostages that I believe are the same 'French hostages' cited in the letter above.
French hostages mark one year in captivity
AFP, September 16, 2011
Seven people were kidnapped in Niger on September 16, 2010 by al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. As the four remaining French hostages mark their first anniversary in captivity, unrest in neighbouring Libya complicates negotiations for their release.
On September 16 last year, seven people were snatched by the radical group Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in Arlit, a uranium mining town in northern Niger.
Among them was a senior employee with the French mining group Areva and his wife. The other five, employed by an Areva subcontractor, included three Frenchmen as well as a Togolese and a Malagasy.
On February 24, the woman and the two Africans were released at a desert spot close to where the borders of Niger, Mali and Algeria meet.
However Daniel Larribe, Thierry Dole, Marc Feret and Pierre Legrand are still being held by AQIM and their families are demanding more tangible efforts to secure their release.