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Qaeda Leader in Yemen: ‘Washington Refused to Trade Omar Abdulrahman for Hostage’ | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Al-Qaeda Leader in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) Qassim al-Reymi. Getty

London – Al-Qaeda Leader in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) Qassim al-Reymi accused an “unresponsive” United States of refusing to free blind Sheikh Omar Abdulrahman in return for the release of an American hostage it was holding in Yemen.

Abdulrahman, born in Egypt in 1938 and also known as “the blind Sheikh,” died in a North Carolina jail last month while serving a life sentence for conspiracy in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing in New York.

Regarding the US hostage, Journalist Luke Somers, who was kidnapped by AQAP in 2013, was killed with South African Teacher Pierre Korkie after a botched rescue attempt by US commandos in December 2014.

“In the Arabian Peninsula, the mujaheddin kidnapped an American and their only demand was the release of the crippled and blind sheikh and the afflicted sister and Pakistani neurosurgeon Aafia Siddiqui,” Reymi said in an audio recording released late on Monday.

“The Americans were unresponsive … America categorically refused the hostage exchange to the point where they even sacrificed their citizen,” Reymi said.

AQAP and Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb released a joint statement after the Sheikh’s funeral in his hometown of al-Gamaleya, northeast of Cairo, calling for “the most violent vengeance” for his death.

For his part, Anti-Terrorism Expert Paul Cruickshank told Asharq Al-Awsat that Reymi’s speech proved that he is still alive and was not killed by US drones’ extensive attacks over the past 10 days.

Moreover, Cruickshank said that Reymi’s released audio reveals the importance of Omar Abdulrahman for extremists around the world, especially for Qaeda.