by Florian Flade
CORRECTION: Previously I wrongly mentioned Mr.Saifullah Mehsud as part of the Taliban movement. This is of course NOT TRUE. Mr.Saifullah Mehsud is the Director of the „FATA Research Center“ (http://www.frc.com.pk) a non partisan and non-political research organization based in Islamabad which focusses on analysis of political events in the Federal Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan. He is a key source when it comes to the case of the Swiss hostages.
The Tehrik e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) that captured the two Swiss nationals David O. and Daniela W. in July have released two video messages by the hostages, both of them showing the Swiss couple alive, pleeing for their release.
In the first video David O. and Daniela W. of the Canton Berne are seen sitting inside a building during nighttime.
„A new announcement for the Swiss government but also for the Pakistani government and the American government“, David O. says in English, „We are still in danger here. Please let go Mister Aafia Siddiqi from America. So please also let go the prisoners that Pakistan have from the Taliban. Let them go because we are in danger and we have much of a problem if you don’t make what this person want.“
In the second video, both hostages are sitting in front of four masked Taliban fighters, three of them holding AK-47s to the hostages´ heads. The Swiss couple speaks for about four minutes in their mothertongue Swiss-German. David O. presents a the Pakistani daily newspaper „Dawn“ September 15th issue to the camera, proving the date the video was recorded.
„We fear for our lives“, David O. pleads, „Please, please finally agree to these demands!“
Swiss nationals David O. and Daniela W. were on a private journey touring Iran and then crossing into southern Pakistan´s region of Balochistan where they were kidnapped. The couple was then taken to the Waziristan tribal areas controlled by various local warlords and terrorist groups including the Tehrik e-Taliban and the Haqqani network. Both hostages are believed to be held near the town of Miranshah in the North Waziristan Agency.
According to information from Pakistan, the Taliban commander Wali ur-Rehman who claims to hold the hostages, is demanding the release of about 100 imprisoned Taliban militants and a ransom of about 3 Million US-Dollars. A very specific demand by the TTP was made public a few months ago: Allegedly the TTP want the Pakistani scientist Aafia Siddiqi to be released from U.S. custody.
Siddiqi was arrested by U.S. forces on the accusation of being an Al-Qaida operative. During interrogation tried to kill an American soldier by grabbing his gun and was sentenced to 86 years in prison by a U.S. court in September 2010.