Somalia’s Al-Shabaab Says It Plans to Execute Captive French Spy

Al-Shabaab, al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Somalia, plans to execute a French intelligence officer held captive since 2009 after a botched rescue operation by French military forces, a commander said.

While the French Defense Ministry said Denis Allex died during an attempted rescue on Jan. 14 along with two soldiers and 17 Somali insurgents, al-Shabaab said he was alive and safe at another location. It hasn’t provided any evidence.

“It is not in doubt that the French hostage will be killed and his corpse displayed soon in the media,” Sheikh Abdikarim Abdulahi, an al-Shabaab commander, said today by phone. Two days ago, al-Shabaab posted photos on its Twitter account they say showed the corpse of a French commando.

Allex was an operative with France’s intelligence agency, known by its French acronym DGSE, according to French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. He was on assignment with Somalia’s transitional federal government when he was kidnapped from a Mogadishu hotel on July 14, 2009, France’s national day.

Al-Shabaab e-mailed a statement earlier today stating it had already carried out the execution.

“Allex and all the other French hostages killed as a result of similar failed rescue operations are the victims of France’s long-standing policy of negligence,” al-Shabaab said. “Allex has also left behind a wealth of information that was retrieved during interrogation sessions conducted over the course of 3 1/2 years.”

Al-Shabaab, which controls parts of south and central Somalia, has led an insurgency against the central government since at least 2006 as it tries to establish an administration that rules by strict Islamic law.

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