British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has condemned the reported execution of a British tourist captured by a branch of al Qaida in Mali.
Tuareg rebels captured Edwin Dyer and three other Europeans in January as they drove in a convoy through the West African desert from Mali’s nomadic culture festival towards Niger’s border.
The Algerian group al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb claims to have killed Dyer on May 31 after a second deadline passed on their demands for the release of the Islamic cleric Abu Qatada, a Jordanian held in Britain since 2005 on terrorism charges.
In a statement to parliament, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown condemned Dyer’s execution as barbaric.
“We have strong reason to believe that a British citizen Edwin Dyer has been murdered by an al Qaida cell in Mali,” said Gordon Brown. “I and the whole house will utterly condemn this appalling and barbaric act of terrorism. Our thoughts and condolences are with the family.”
Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb is the same group that kidnapped Canadian diplomat Robert Fowler and his aide Louis Guay in Mali in December.
The group released the two Canadians and two of the four kidnapped tourists, Marianne Petzold and Gabriella Greitner, in April. A Swiss hostage remains in captivity and is believed to be still alive.
Prime Minister Brown told parliament the British government will work closely with Mali to fight terrorism.
“I have talked to the president of Mali, he knows he will have every support in rooting out al Qaeda from his country,” he said. “I want those who use terror against this country and against British citizens to know beyond doubt that they will be hunted down and they will be brought to justice, there will be no hiding place for them and there will be no safe haven for terrorists who attack our country.”
Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb began in Algeria as an insurrection against Algeria’s secular military rulers. It has since expanded and aligned itself with the broader a Qaida terrorist network, claiming responsibility for suicide bombings in Algeria last year and the kidnapping of two Austrian tourists in Tunisia who were later freed in Mali.
In 2003, the group’s predecessor, the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, captured 32 European tourists and held them for a ransom of $10 million. All the hostages were freed.