Plans to free kidnapped Saudi envoy fall through |
Gulf Times - 13 August, 2012
The planned release of a Saudi Arabian diplomat kidnapped in Yemen fell through yesterday when Al Qaeda-linked militants refused at the last minute to hand him over to mediators, a tribal source said.
Abdallah al-Khalidi, the deputy consul in the Saudi consulate in the Yemeni port city of Aden, was kidnapped in May by Islamist militants demanding a ransom and the release of women prisoners held in the kingdom.
Earlier yesterday, tribal chief Tareq al-Fadli said that Khalidi had been released late on Saturday after a mediation by local tribal leaders. He did not give details.
But later in the day, a tribal source said the kidnappers had delayed Khalidi’s release saying they needed to hold more talks among themselves.
“The tribal negotiators were surprised at the last minute when they were told by the kidnappers that the handover of the Saudi diplomat was postponed to a later time,” the source said, without giving further details.
A militant who claimed responsibility for the abduction had threatened to kill Khalidi unless a ransom was paid and Al Qaeda prisoners were freed from Saudi jails.
Last month, five Al Qaeda-linked women detainees were freed by Saudi authorities. Interior ministry spokesman Mansour al-Turkis stressed at the time that the move was not linked to the demands of Khalidi’s captors.
Kidnappings are common in Yemen, frequently in the context of regional or tribal disputes with Yemeni authorities. The victims are sometimes held for ransom, particularly if they are foreigners.
Yemen has been in turmoil since popular protests broke out last year and led to the ousting of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Khalidi had appeared in two videos posted on the Internet after his abduction begging King Abdullah to meet his captors’ demand for the release of women detainees.
The US and its Gulf Arab allies have watched with mounting alarm as Islamist fighters, emboldened by the political instability in Yemen, gained ground in the south of the country in the past year.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the Al Qaeda group operating in Yemen, is seen by US officials as the most dangerous offshoot of the global militant network.
The group was established in Yemen after merging the Yemeni and Saudi branches of the jihadist network in the face of a crackdown by the Saudi security services.
Saudis have in the past been kidnapped in Yemen.
In November 2010, a Saudi doctor was kidnapped in northern Yemen by gunmen who demanded the release of nine members of Al Qaeda, but he was released on the same day thanks to mediation by tribal representatives.
In April last year, tribesmen abducted a Saudi diplomat over a financial dispute. He was set free after 10 days.
New video of Swiss hostage in Yemen
A Swiss woman being held hostage in eastern Yemen has made a second video appeal to the Swiss government to help her, the Sonntags Zeitung reported yesterday.
The Swiss foreign ministry confirmed the existence of the video but would give no further information to protect the woman’s security. It was the second video appeal by the woman who was reportedly snatched from her home in March in the Red Sea port city of Hodeida by armed men, who then transferred her to Shabwa province, far to the east. In May she appealed to the Swiss authorities to help secure her release and confirmed she was being held by Al Qaeda combatants.