French hostage families renew calls for release (Magharebia.com)
Ten months now. Dire outlook for the hostages in the current situation. It does give some hope that kidnappings will end when there is no money forthcoming from the French.
"In March, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) issued ransom demands, which included 90 million euros and the release of AQIM prisoners held in France. The demands were roundly rejected by the French government.
"We cannot negotiate on these bases," French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said.
"What AQIM is demanding in return for the release of hostage is much greater than the assistance we're currently giving to the state of Mali in its development, some 53 million euros a year," French lawmaker Francois Loncle said.
The stance found support from counter-terrorism experts, who fear that paying terrorists would solidify their position and weaken the recent blow suffered by al-Qaeda at the hands of the Mauritanian army in the Wagadou Forest.
"The idea that the international public opinion had of AQIM is that the organisation was not an ideological group but just a group seeking to make a profit through drug trafficking and kidnapping of foreign nationals," political analyst Sidi Mohammed Ould Younis told Magharebia.
The French refusal to meet the ransom "will further disfigure the image of AQIM in the eyes of public opinion and aggravate its financial weakness, as it today has a dire need for money", he added.
For Salafist ideology expert Said Ould Habib, AQIM's ransom demand was a manifestation of its growing weakness.
"AQIM's demand of ransom establishes two assumptions: first, their feeling of danger because of the military strike, and therefore, they seek to have funds to help them stand on their feet again; second, their feeling of strength derived from their possession of advanced Libya weapons," he added.
"No ransom should be given to those terrorists," Ould Habib added. "Rather, they should be confronted militarily even if the French have to sacrifice their own hostages for the rescue of thousands of citizens. And when AQIM realises that kidnapping hostages is no longer a source of money, it will give up kidnapping."