LONDON — Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Wednesday that there was “strong reason to believe” that a Briton taken hostage by an Al Qaeda-affiliated group in the African state of Mali had been executed. He called the killing “barbaric.”
The Briton, identified as Edwin Dyer, was taken hostage in January along with a Swiss citizen and two other tourists in Niger, close to the border with Mali, but was held in Mali.
The group, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, had demanded the release of Abu Qatada, a Jordanian-born Palestinian cleric held in Britain whom a Spanish judge has called the leading Al Qaeda lieutenant in Europe. Britain has said he is a “significant international terrorist” but he has denied belonging to Al Qaeda.
News reports said the group had announced on a Web site that it killed the Briton on May 31 after its second deadline for its demands to be met expired.
“This tragedy reinforces our commitment to confront terrorism,” Mr. Brown said in a statement. “It strengthens our determination never to concede to the demands of terrorists, nor to pay ransoms.”
“I want those who would use terror against British citizens to know beyond doubt that we and our allies will pursue them relentlessly, and that they will meet the justice they deserve.”
Mr. Dyer was kidnapped along with three other tourists, Marianne Petzold of Germany, and Werner and Gabriella Burco-Greiner of Switzerland, in Niger on January 22, 2009, along the border with Mali. They were held by the group Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which was also responsible for the recent abductions of Canadian diplomats Robert Fowler and Louis Guay, and for the 2008 kidnapping of Austrian tourists Wolfgang Ebner and Andrea Kloiber. Ms. Petzold and Ms. Burco-Greiner were released along with Mr. Fowler and Mr. Guay in April. Mr. Greiner is still being held captive.
May God comfort the family and friends of Mr. Dyer for their terrible loss and may his murderers be brought to justice soon.