Confessions of an Amenas hostage-taker
The Algerian daily Echourouk El Youmi, a big-circulation private newspaper with ties to Algerian intelligence, the DRS, has just published the reputed confession of one of the terrorists involved in last week’s Amenas oil hostage-taking. He is said to be Abu Talha Tounsi (“the Tunisian”), a longtime holy warrior and one of the planners of the operation. It is impossible to assess the veracity of what is reported, but given the paper’s links to Algerian security services, it cannot be dismissed out of hand. Even DRS disinformation, which this may be, often includes a lot of bona fide information.
Given the importance of this story, I have put the full text below. There are several important claims:
– Mokhtar Belmokhtar, the shadowy Algerian emir, was behind the plot, which was planned 10 weeks or more before the operation.
– there was inside help, specifically an Algerian who had previously worked for BP.
– Muslims were not to be harmed; the Western hostages were to be taken to Libya.
More as it develops ….
The Algerian gas field attackers received instructions from Mokhtar Belmokhtar as they planned the action, two months and a half ago. They were assigned to take the foreign hostages to Libya, a terrorist told Algerian security forces.
“We left northern Mali and entered Algeria through the south of Libya. Our elements Egyptian Abu Bakr, Al Mandjel, a former driver at British Petroleum (BP) and a guide were on a black Station car. They explored the area and kept watch on it. They got a call ordering them to secure the area and get ready for the attack. We were ordered to not harm Arab Muslims including Algerians and to wrap explosives around all the foreign hostages’ neck,” the terrorist said.
He was arrested by the Algeria army forces and was wounded in his left leg. His nickname is Abu Talha Tounsi. He comes from Tunisia. He joined terrorist groups in 1998. He was part of the attack masterminds.
According to security sources, he admitted that he was appointed as leader of the third group which was divided by the main commander. He was assigned of kidnapping the first group of foreigners and smuggling them to Libya.
“We entered the area on Monday on 8 land rovers pretending that they belonged to oil companies.”
They stayed there until they received instructions. Three of them drove for more than 50 km and kept watch on all the movements. Of them, an Algerian former driver at BP. He joined the terrorist organization, two years ago. When they arrived to surveillance center No 342, Egyptian Abu Bakr called them using a Thuraya satellite phone and told them everything was as planned.
“We kept driving on Tuesday’s evening and we entered the oil field on Wednesday’s morning at 5:48 am.”
According to the arrested terrorist, the attack was planned, two months and a half ago. The attackers received instructions from Mokhtar Belmokhtar to blow the oil field up and seized the largest possible number of foreign hostages.
“The attack was in response to crusaders who attacked brothers in Mali and revenge as Algeria authorized French warplanes to use its airspace,” he said.
He added that his group received logistic support from Islamists in Libya and Mali. They were ordered to torture and kidnap a number of foreigners.