A Nigerian group threatened to break off negotiations for the release of a kidnapped Israeli businessman on Thursday night, using the excuse that Israel National News had referred to its members as "terrorists" in a story published earlier Thursday.
The group, the "Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta" (M.E.N.D.), denied responsibility for kidnapping the 60-year-old Israeli businessman who was working in Nigeria but offered assistance in negotiations for his release.
According to a report in Reuters, M.E.N.D., which is comprised of indigenous gunmen, said Thursday evening that the Israeli hostage "has been located and seems to be a diabetic patient."
However, M.E.N.D. wrote to Reuters that the offer of assistance "has been suspended until the Israel National News (Arutz Sheva) rescinds its description of M.E.N.D. as a terrorist group and offer (sic) an apology in the next publication."
Baruch Gordon, Director of English Media at IsraelNationalNews.com, stated in response, "After consultation with diplomatic sources, IsraelNationalNews.com has decided to remove the reference to the militant group in Niger as 'terrorist.' While there may be no credibility to the threat published in Reuters, as long as there is a possibility that this change will help free the Israeli, we are happy to comply."
Reuters noted that M.E.N.D. is "the region's main militant group whose campaign of sabotage has included bombing pipelines and kidnapping foreign oil workers."
The kidnap victim, a 60-year-old project manager for the Israeli construction firm Gilmore Engineering Limited, has a home in the Nigerian oil city of Port Harcourt. He was pulled from his car by four gunmen after he reportedly had left an event held at the home of a Nigerian governor.
His driver has been arrested on suspicion of being connected with the kidnapping. No one has claimed responsibility for the abduction.