Friday, January 18, 2013

Brief moment of clarity report: State Department refuses offer to trade "prisoners" with Malian jihadists

Scene: The plant is located in In Amenas, around 60 miles from the Libyan border and 800 miles from the capital in Algeria's vast desert south

"Terrorists should be on notice that they will find no sanctuary or refuge; not in Algeria, not in North Africa, not anywhere. Those who will want only to attack will have no place to hide" said Leon Panetta yesterday.  He also said that the offer of a trade; two Americans for two jihadists; one who is serving time for plotting the 1993 WTC bombing (the Bilnd Sheik) and Aafia Siddiqui, convicted of attempted murder against American soldiers and FBI while in Afghanistan. I am glad to see my leaders taking a strong stance, we will judge their success by how many innocents are alive after it is all over.

From the Daily Mail January 17 by Tim Shipman, David Williams, Beth Stebner and Helen Pow.

'We don't do deals with terrorists': State Department REJECTS 'Battalion of Blood' gang offer to swap two U.S. hostages seized in Algeria for jailed extremists

The Obama administration has rejected an offer from militants to release convicted terrorists in exchange for US hostages being held in Algeria, as it is revealed Texas resident Frederick Buttaccio was killed in yesterday's bloody raid.

The Associated Press reported this afternoon that Buttaccio died in the hostage standoff as survivors said militants strapped plastic explosives around their necks and described how foreign workers secretly invented disguises to escape their captors.

The Al Qaeda-linked kidnappers offered to outrageous swap deal this morning through a Mauritanian news agency but US officials were quick to shut it down, insisting the administration rejects any such trade of hostages for convicted terrorists.

Unnamed US officials said Buttaccio's remains had been recovered and his family had been notified but said it was unclear as yet how he died.

The State Department has also confirmed that American hostages were still being held at the natural gas plant in the Sahara, though they would not reveal how many.
At least 12 hostages, including Buttaccio, have been killed since the start of the operation to free workers kidnapped by Islamic militants, according to Algeria's state news service, however it noted that its figures were 'provisional' and could increase.

The service reported at around 11 a.m. EST that nearly 100 of the 132 foreign workers kidnapped had now been freed. More than 30 foreign energy workers still appear to be unaccounted for.

At a press conference today, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that during meetings with Algerian Prime Minister Abdul-Malik Salal she underscored that 'the utmost care must be taken to preserve innocent life' in the continuing hostage crisis.

Foreign leaders expressed concern over the heavy-handed tactics used by the Algerian military in yesterday's raid, which was carried out without the prior knowledge of the US government.

The assault was meant to wipe out the al-Qaeda-linked militants and free the dozens of foreigners from at least 10 countries who were being held, but instead left scores of people dead, injured or missing.

'The U.S. extends our condolences to all the families who have lost loved ones in this brutal assault,' she said. 'We remain deeply concerned about those who remain in danger.

'I spoke with the Algerian prime minister again this morning to get an update on this very difficult situation, and to underscore, again, that the utmost care must be taken to preserve innocent life.'

(.)A source said yesterday that 30 hostages were killed, of whom the nationalities of 15 had been established. Of these, eight were Algerian and seven were foreigners, including two British, two Japanese and a French national. One Briton was killed when the terrorists seized the gas compound on Wednesday. The number of foreigners unaccounted for and feared dead is now at 60.

An Irish engineer who survived said he saw four jeeps full of hostages blown up by Algerian troops whose commanders said they moved in about 30 hours after the siege began because the gunmen had demanded to be allowed to take their captives abroad.

A French hostage employed by a French catering company said Algerian military forces had found some British hostages hiding in a roof space and were combing the sprawling In Amenas site for others when he was escorted away by the military.

'I hid in my room for nearly 40 hours, under the bed. I put boards up pretty much all round,' Alexandre Berceaux told Europe 1. 'I didn't know how long I was going to stay there ... I was afraid. I could see myself already ending up in a pine box.'

The Japanese government said on Friday that three of its citizens escaped but 14 were still unaccounted for and their fate was unclear.
BP said there was a 'small number of BP employees' at the facility 'whose current location and situation remain uncertain.' It added that 11 employees and hundreds of staff at other oil companies were flown out of the area yesterday and also described the situation as 'ongoing.'

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