By Tom Harper
LONDON, Sep 14 – A negotiator has called on the UK Foreign Office to open talks with the suspected al Qaeda gang who snatched a British woman from Kenya.
Dahir Kadiye, a Somali-born cabbie from Leytonstone who secured the release of retired couple Paul and Rachel Chandler from kidnappers in his homeland last year, also warned that Judith Tebbutt was likely to be in the hands of Islamist extremists.
The 57-year-old said: “We need to negotiate. We could mobilise the local community who will appeal to their hearts. They will say: ‘Look, this female is not a camel or a sheep; you have to let her go.’?”
Judith, 56, was abducted on Sunday by suspected al Shabaab militants from her beach cottage near the Kenyan border with Somalia.
Her husband, David, a 58-year-old publishing executive, was murdered as he tried to fight off the armed bandits at the £600-a-night Kiwayu Safari Village, 30 miles from war-torn Somalia.
Prince Edward interrupted a visit to Kenya promoting the London Olympics to discuss the situation in Somalia with Vice-president Kalonzo Musyoka.
Musyoka told the Earl of Wessex his border officials were struggling to contain armed raids by al Shabaab, a group linked to al Qaeda that is waging an insurgency against Somalia’s government.
Back in London, Kadiye pledged to contact his sources in Somalia to gather information on the whereabouts of Judith. He said: “I will call people, I know the area. We will get the information and decide how we could reach (the kidnappers).
“My first reaction is that this is al Shabaab. Since Osama bin Laden died, they are trying to locate more funds.
“It would be very sad if this lady is in al Shabaab’s hands. Pirates are not anti-western, they do not want to take risks or die, they just want money. But al Shabaab do not mind dying.”
Kadiye last year negotiated the freedom of the Chandlers, a Kent couple who were kidnapped from their yacht in the Indian Ocean and held hostage for 13 months by Somali pirates.
Kenyan police are convinced Judith was taken by speedboat to Somalia and have approached elders in the neighbouring state for information.
The Tebbutt’s only child Oliver, 25, has said he is “devastated” at his parents’ fate but indicated that the Foreign Office has told him not to talk about it while they were trying to negotiate his mother’s release.
(This story was first published by The London Evening Standard http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23986280-kenya-kidnapping-local-man-arrested.do)