Al Qaeda Claims Responsibility for the Kidnapping of 2 Austrian Tourists in Tunisia

Al Qaeda in Islamic North Africa claimed responsibility for kidnapping two Austrian tourists last month in Tunisia in an audio recording aired Monday on Al-Jazeera television.

A man who identified himself as Salah Abu Mohammed said in the recording that the terrorist group kidnapped the two Austrians on Feb. 22 in retribution for Western cooperation with Israel, but said the hostages were in good health.

"We tell Western tourists that at the same time they are flowing into Tunisian lands seeking joy, our brothers are being slain in Gaza by the Jews with the collaboration of the Western states," said Abu Mohammed.

"The mujahideen have previously warned and alerted them that the apostate Tunisian state cannot and will not be able to protect you, and the hands of the mujahideen can reach you wherever you are on the Tunisian soil."

Austria's Foreign Ministry said last week that two Austrian tourists have been missing in Tunisia since mid-February. The Foreign Ministry described them only as a 51-year-old man and a 40- to 45-year-old woman.

Officials say they haven't been heard from since they placed a phone call from the Matmata area in southern Tunisia.