Days after a failed rescue attempt by French special forces, a terrorist group based in Somalia has not yet revealed the fate of a French spy it has held hostage for years, but has released a flurry of statements complaining that the Western media has declined to show gruesome pictures of a dead French soldier.
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
“The double standards of the Western media! It’s acceptable to publish the graphic image of Ghadafi but the French is suddenly ‘too graphic,’” read one of more than 10 recent tweets from a self-declared spokesperson for al-Shabaab, an al Qaeda-allied terror group in east Africa. The tweet was apparently referring to images of Libyan dictator Moammar Ghadhafi’s dead body that were published shortly after he was killed in 2011.
The same Twitter account released three images Monday of a man al-Shabaab said was a French special operations soldier killed overnight Friday in the failed attempt to rescue a French intelligence agent codenamed Denis Allex, who had been held by al-Shabaab since July 2009.
A caption for one of the pictures asked French President Francois Hollande directly, “Was it worth it?”
Over the weekend Hollande acknowledged that two French soldiers had been killed in the operation and said it was likely Allex was executed by his captors.
Al-Shabaab, however, said in its statement early Monday that Allex survived, that a “unanimous verdict” has been reached concerning his fate and that details of the verdict would be released “in the coming hours.” No such details have been published from the account as of this report and the group has not released any new pictures or videos of Allex alive.
Al-Shabaab formally allied itself with al Qaeda in February 2012, but that didn’t stop African forces from handing the terror group a series of military defeats in Somalia, eventually pushing them out of all major urban areas in the East African nation.
State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland called al-Shabaab’s boasting over the failed hostage rescue a “desperate” move, saying the group remains significantly weakened as the newly elected Somali government gaining more territory throughout the country.
“Al-Shabaab is on its heels and it’s desperate to try to continue to maintain its influence, but it’s not going to be successful,” Nuland said Monday.
ABC News’ Rym Momtaz and Dana Hughes contributed to this report.