LONDON, April 30 (UPI) -- Al-Qaida insurgents have offered to release a British hostage in exchange for allowing radical cleric Abu Qatada to avoid extradition from Britain to Jordan.
Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb said it wouldn't release Stephen Malcolm, held hostage since November, unless the British government agrees to let Qatada chose his own destination, The Sun reported Monday.
Malcolm was kidnapped in Timbuktu, Mali, and is believed to be one of nine Europeans abducted in Mali and Niger since September 2010.
"The initiative to the British government is to release its citizen Stephen Malcolm, who also has South African nationality, if it deports Abu Qatada to one of the 'Arab Spring' countries. If Britain ignores this offer, it will bear the consequences of handing Abu Qatada to the Jordanian government," Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb said in a statement,
Home Secretary Theresa May has been trying to remove Qatada from England so he can stand trial in Jordan for terrorism.
The group told May she should abandon the plan, warning that Qatada's extradition to Jordon would "open the door of evil" in the Britain, said SITE, a U.S. terror monitoring organization that outlined the militants' proposal.
Britain has been trying to deport Qatada, 51, for more than six years, contending he is a threat to national security. A Jordanian court convicted Qatada in absentia in 1998 of being involved in terror attacks. He faces a retrial if returned.
European judges blocked the extradition in January, expressing concern that evidence obtained by torture could be used at his trial. May then flew to Jordan to seek the necessary assurances and the extradition was approved.
The European court is considering Qatada's latest appeal, which the British Home Office said was filed after a deadline to do so.