Algiers, Asharq Al-Awsat – Algerian security forces are investigating the disappearance of an Israeli national in the Sahara desert and there are concerns that Al Qaeda in the Islamist Maghreb, the Al Qaeda wing of North Africa, kidnapped him.
Informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that Algerian security apparatus are about to investigate the disappearance of a foreign national in Hassi Messaoud a week ago and that initial information indicated that an Israeli [man] entered Algeria on a Spanish passport. Investigators think it is likely that he was kidnapped by Al Qaeda in the Islamist Maghreb.
[However] the sources said that people working with armed Salafists sold the Israeli to the terrorist organization.
This is the first time that a foreign national has been kidnapped in Hassi Messaoud, where some of the country’s most important oil installations are based. It is also home to thousands of foreign technicians who work for oil companies that are in partnership with the Algerian state-owned Sonatrach Company.
The sources added that the investigation into the disappearance of an Israeli “have not yet clarified whether the Israeli is a dual national or if his Spanish passport was forged. It is also unclear why he was in the Sahara Desert in Algeria and how he entered the country.”
The US Embassy in Algiers announced Thursday that the Deputy Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigations John S. Pistole met with “officials commissioned with applying the law” who are part of Algeria’s Direction Générale de la Sureté Nationale [Algerian state police].
The aim of the visit that took place earlier this week was to “investigate cases of joint interest and ways to consolidate joint efforts in the framework of fighting crime.”
Pistole “thanked the Algerian government particularly for its continuous cooperation with the FBI, and expressed his happiness with the ongoing communication with his Algerian counterparts about the problem of cross-border crimes that the US and Algeria are facing.”