Officials deny paying Muslims to free a ChristianMay 3, 2012
Beatrice Stockly, a Christian woman from Switzerland who worked in Timbuktu, was abducted earlier this month after an Islamist coup in the once democratic nation of Mali. Reports indicate that Stockly may have been sold by her captives to the fundamentalist Muslim group Ansar Dine.
Ansar Dine then released Stockly on Apr. 24 after reportedly brokering a deal with the Swiss government. Officials from Burkina Faso, whose special forces accepted the handover of Stockly by Ansar Dine, denied that any ransom was paid.
Naturally, Switzerland and Burkina Faso must deny the claim that a ransom was paid because: 1) paying such ransoms violates international law, 2) announcing ransom payments in public encourages further abductions by the jihadists, and 3) paying ransoms indicates the countries are not prepared to use force to free their kidnapped citizens.
But it is only logical to assume that a payment was in fact made. There would have been no incentive for Ansar Dine to release the woman otherwise. Moreover, Islamic law permits the collection of ransoms after abducting non-Muslims—a precept with which Ansar Dine is certainly familiar. Ansar Dine probably has a little more spending money today than it had prior to the Stockly affair.
A photo was taken of Ansar Dine fighters as Stockly was handed over to Burkinabe forces:
From News24.com last week:
Swiss hostage released in Mali
Timbuktu – A Swiss woman abducted last week in rebel-held Timbuktu in northern Mali was freed on Tuesday and handed over to the security services of Burkina Faso, an AFP journalist reported.
After arriving aboard a pick-up truck wearing a black dress and turban, Beatrice Stockly removed the garments before boarding a helicopter that had left Burkina Faso early on Tuesday.
Stockly was the last Westerner living in Timbuktu and refused to leave after the legendary desert city fell to the Islamist Ansar Dine rebels on April 1.
Ansar Dine’s assault on Timbuktu was backed by fighters from al-Qaeda’s north Africa branch, known as al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
A source in Timbuktu previously said Stockly had originally been in the hands of a private militia that wanted to sell her to AQIM.
Perhaps AQIM wouldn’t pay as much for Stockly as Ansar Dine offered…