When French and Mauritanian troops launched an overnight raid late last week on a small terror campsite in the middle of the Sahara Desert, it was meant to rescue a 78-year-old retired French engineer who had been taken hostage by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), a Northern African terror group that has become an al-Qaeda auxiliary.
In the wake of the raid, which reportedly took place along the Malian border, French officials said the status of the hostage was unknown. Now it is known that AQIM killed the hostage engineer in retaliation for the raid.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has expressed outrage at the killing, declaring AQIM an “odious” group for having done so, and vowing revenge for the killing.
Yet the revenge attacks will likely concern neighboring Spain, which has two hostages of its own in AQIM’s possession, and has expressed annoyance that the French government conducted the apparently ill-considered rescue attempt without coordinating with them. The two captured Spanish citizens are aid workers, who have been held since November.