DUBAI - Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb has offered to release a kidnapped Briton if Britain frees radical Jordanian preacher Abu Qatada, but it warned against handing the cleric over to his native Jordan, a statement on an Islamist website said on Monday.

"The initiative to the British government is to release its citizen Stephen Malcolm, who also has South African nationality, if it deports Abu Qatada to one of the 'Arab Spring' countries," said the statement, which could not be verified.

"If Britain ignores this offer it will bear the consequences of handing Abu Qatada to the Jordanian government."

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