Report: Spain Paid al-Qaeda $10 Million to Free Hostages

Mali MP Involved in Deal Says Spanish Govt Paid Whole Amount

According to reports from a mediator to the Spanish press and a Mali MP involved in the negotiations, the Spanish government secured the release of 2 hostages held by the al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) group by paying the group off.

$10 million, that’s also my figure,” the Mali MP confirmed, adding that the Spanish government paid the entire amount. The two hostages were seized in Mauritania in November.

The AQIM group is now a formal regional auxiliery of al-Qaeda, but had operated prior to that as the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC). The group operates largely around the Saharan Desert, and engages in kidnapping and killings across northern Africa.

The freeing of Spain’s aid workers stands in stark contrast to a French engineer they had captured, who was executed after a failed attempt by the French military to rescue him in a raid on a desert compound.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.