William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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HOSTAGES – AT 9:01 A.M. ET:  There is an ongoing hostage situation in Algeria, where Al Qaeda-linked kidnappers are holding a number of hostages, including, according to most reports, about seven Americans.  There are also reports this morning of escape attempts and an attack by the Algerian military on the hostage site.  Details are hard to come by.  We'll report what we think we know.

Hostage situations are extremely dangerous and can lead to military action, diplomatic standoffs, or even wars.  The Iranian hostage crisis of 1980 helped bring down Jimmy Carter in the United States.  From Fox:

At least 20 foreign hostages, including some Americans, escaped Thursday from an Al Qaeda-linked group who had taken over an Algerian natural gas complex in the Sahara desert, a security official reported.

But the militant group said 35 hostages and 15 of their members have been killed after Algerian helicopters attacked the facility in a strafing run, the Associated Press reports. The claim could not be independently verified.

The group claiming responsibility -- called Katibat Moulathamine or the Masked Brigade -- told a Mauritanian news outlet that its leader was among the dead in the attack, which occurred when the kidnappers tried to leave the complex.

The Nouakchott Information Agency is also quoting the militants saying that at least two hostages have been wounded in the attack, both Japanese.

The official who reported the hostages' escape spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.

COMMENT:  We'll follow this, although the event, a major hostage crisis, is getting only ho-hum interest in Washington and on some Obaman news outlets.  We do not know the fate of the Americans still held hostage. 

So, let's see:  First Al Qaeda-linked "militants" murder four American diplomats in Libya.  Now Al Qaeda-linked "militants" take a group, including seven Americans, hostage in Algeria. 

Repeat after me, the mantra of Dear Leader Obama:  Al Qaeda is on the run.  Al Qaeda is on the run.

Believe.  Just believe.

January 17,  2013