An Al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist group was paid $1.1-million for the release of two captured Canadian diplomats four years ago.
It is not known who paid the ransom or how it was paid.
The Canadian government has said it does not pay ransoms, but has never stated clearly that no other country paid for the diplomats’ release on its behalf after 130 days in captivity.
A document obtained by the Associated Press, recovered in Mali, is a lengthy chronicle of a bitter split between a major terror group, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), and one of its prominent leaders, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, who led the capture of Mr. Fowler and Mr. Guay. In the letter, AQIM leaders lament Mr. Belmokhtar’s “unilateral behaviour” and say the diplomats were let go “for the most meagre price” of “700,000 Euros,” or about $1.1-million Canadian at the time.
Mr. Fowler and Mr. Guay were captured in December, 2008, while on a United Nations mission to Niger. They were held in Mali and eventually released in April, 2009. Details of the release have trickled out since.
U.S. State Department cables obtained by WikiLeaks cited the “two Canadian officials who were recently released in return for a ransom payment,” a fee that “only increased the strength of al-Qaeda” in the region. Another WikiLeaks cable showed American envoys noticed “an enormous influx of cash” in the region after the Canadians’ release.