Al Qaeda in North Africa says it will kill a British hostage if the British government does not release an imprisoned radical preacher.

The group said in a statement posted Sunday on an Islamist Web site that it will execute a British tourist held by the group since late January if the extremist Muslim preacher Abu Qatada is not freed in 20 days.

Abu Qatada, a Palestinian-Jordanian, was jailed in Britain in 2002 accused of links with militant groups but was released in 2005. He was re-arrested and is pending deportation to Jordan where he was sentenced to life in prison in absentia.

Four tourists, including two Swiss, a German woman and a British man, were kidnapped by gunmen Jan. 22 in Niger, their tour operator said.