Al-Qaeda member in North Africa
Photo: AFP

Al-Qaeda: Tourists kidnapped because of Israel

Group claims responsibility for kidnapping two Austrian tourists last month in Tunisia, says abduction carried out in retribution for Western cooperation with Jewish state

Al-Qaeda in Islamic North Africa claimed responsibility for kidnapping two Austrian tourists last month in Tunisia in an audio recording aired Monday on al-Jazeera television.


A man who identified himself as Salah Abu Mohammed said in the recording that the terrorist group kidnapped the two Austrians on February 22 in retribution for Western cooperation with Israel, but said the hostages were in good health.


"We tell Western tourists that at the same time they are flowing into Tunisian lands seeking joy, our brothers are being slain in Gaza by the Jews with the collaboration of the Western states," said Abu Mohammed.


"The mujahideen have previously warned and alerted them that the apostate Tunisian state cannot and will not be able to protect you, and the hands of the mujahideen can reach you wherever you are on the Tunisian soil."


Abu Mohammed identified the two hostages as a female nurse and a man working as a consultant.


The Washington-based SITE Institute, which monitors militant Islamic Web sites, also reported the claim by al-Qaida in Islamic North Africa, saying it was posted on jihadist Internet forums. The two Austrian tourists were identified as Wolfgang Ebner and Andrea Kloiber in the al-Qaeda statement, a copy of which SITE provided to The Associated Press.


Johann Froehlich, the Austrian ambassador to Tunisia, said in a TV interview with broadcaster ORF on Monday that he had just met with Tunisian Foreign Ministry officials about the case but could not confirm the media reports.


The Austrian government said last week that two Austrian tourists had been missing in Tunisia since mid-February. The Foreign Ministry said at the time that both were from Salzburg, and described them as a 51-year-old man and a 40- to 45-year-old woman.


Officials said they the tourists hadn't been heard from since they placed a phone call from the Matmata area in southern Tunisia. Authorities said the missing couple was driving a Jeep with Austrian license plates when they disappeared in the North African country.


פרסום ראשון: 03.10.08, 19:52
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