Video footage of a kidnapped Tunisian diplomat pleading for negotiations for his freedom to continue was today released on the internet by the group holding him.
The video, posted on youtube by a militant Islamic group called Shabab Al-Tawhid, showed a distressed Mohamed Cheikh-Rouhou – the ambassador’s secretary, who was kidnapped in Tripoli a month ago.
He pleaded with the Tunisian president to negotiate with the kidnappers for his release. “They are feeding me and clothing me but they are tired, they are getting fed up of waiting. Please negotiate seriously with them,” he said. “I have a wife and three children and my parents are not well.”
Clearly very distressed, he also appeared to blame the president for not stepping up negotiations. “Is this my reward for serving my country?” he asked, pointing out that he had worked in the diplomatic service for 12 years. “Mr President, If you have had enough of negotiating or fail in the negotiations, please tell me so they can just kill me,” he said desperately. “They could kill me at any time,” he added.
Cheikh-Rouhou broke down in tears twice during the four-minute clip and said he longed to be reunited with his family and return to Tunisia.
The end of the footage showed some text from Shabab Al-Tawhid, which read: “To the Tunisian government, as you capture from us, so we will capture from you and as you kill us, so we will kill you.”
The group is demanding the release of two Libyans held in a Tunisian prison on terrorism-related charges. They have been held since May 2011 and are serving 20-year sentences. Yesterday, the president of the Libyan Prisoners Abroad Defence Committee, Taha Shakshuki, claimed that both prisoners were victims of a miscarriage of justice.
The video was dated 19 April, although it was released early this morning. Throughout the video, in the left-hand corner of the screen, an image of the black Al-Qaeda flag was alternated with the group’s logo.