State Dept: ‘The U.S. Does Not Negotiate with Terrorists'

By Patrick Burke | January 18, 2013 | 5:55pm EST

Sheikh Omar Abel-Rahman, also known as "The Blind Sheikh," convicted of masterminding the first attack on the World Trade Center. (AP photo)

( -  The State Department was firm on Friday, when reporters asked whether the U.S. government was considering releasing Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, commonly known as “the Blind Sheikh,” the mastermind behind the 1993 World Trade Center attack.

“The United States does not negotiate with terrorists,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.

In an Algerian gas field named Ain Amenas on Wednesday, a group of Islamist militants known only as the “Masked Brigade,” took hostage over 30 individuals from the US and elsewhere who work at the facility.

According to reports, the militants have offered to release two American hostages in exchange for the U.S. releasing the Blind Sheikh from federal prison, as well as Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist who is serving a life sentence for the attempted murder of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.

Nuland, pressed by a reporter who asked -- “The terrorists are asking for the release of Omar Abdel-Rahman and Aafia Siddiqui from the US prisons. Do you have any reaction to that?” – simply repeated her stand.

“I’ll say it again -- the United States does not negotiate with terrorists,” she said.

Throughout the press conference, Nuland reiterated several times her current inability to go into details about the situation on the ground, and the American hostages who were taken.

“I’m not going to speak about any Americans, the conditions that they find themselves in until we’re able to speak about the entire situation, which we’re not at this stage,” Nuland said in response to a questions about the situation in Algeria.

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