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Pakistan Exchanges the Daughters of Zawahiri for Army Chief’s Son | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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File photo of Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani. PHOTO: REUTERS

London, Islam Abad – Al-Qaeda affiliated magazine al-Masra announced that a prisoners’ swap took place weeks ago during which the two daughters of Ayman Zawahiri had been exchanged for the son of General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, Pakistan’s former Chief of Army Staff. No comments have been made by the officials in Islam Abad and a source at the Pakistani army refused to comment.

The exchange included the release of Fatima and Umaymah Zawahiri as well as Sumaya daughter of leader Murjan Salem, along with their children, according to sources.

Qaeda issued a statement in the magazine accusing the Pakistanis of holding the three women and their children on the “orders of American intelligence” since 2014.

Al Qaeda said it would hold the Pakistani government and its “American masters” responsible “for their criminal behavior” of abducting the women.

Hani al-Sibai, head of the London-based al-Maqrizi Center for Historical Studies, told Asharq Al-Awsat that this comes in accordance with Qaeda’s policy in trading with states. He added that it had happened before with Iran when Qaeda kidnapped an Iranian diplomat in Yemen and was exchanged for seven leaders held in Tehran prisons.

According to Sibai, Qaeda had learned from Taliban negotiation techniques to release members, unlike ISIS which slaughters the hostages after kidnapping them.

Sibai claimed that the army won’t admit that the son of Kayani had been kidnapped for the embarrassment it causes. He added that this is considered negotiating with terrorists and they are afraid it will encourage other armed groups to do the same.

Sibai, who is also an expert on counter-terrorism, said that most probably heads of Pakistani tribes oversaw the negotiations in cooperation with the Pakistani military intelligence.

Zawahiri’s daughters were arrested on the Afghani-Pakistani borders with their children after they left their city Waziristan due to constant bombing. While Sumaya was arrested when Pakistani forces raided the town.

The magazine also published a lengthy interview with Abo Qutada, bin Laden’s associate in Europe, who was deported from Britain to Jordan in 2013.