Kidnapped Saudi envoy urges king not to forget him

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 02, 2012 2:00 PM
Kidnapped Saudi envoy urges king not to forget him

DUBAI/SANAA (Reuters) - A Saudi diplomat kidnapped by al Qaeda-linked militants in Yemen appealed to his king in an Internet video not to forget him and to meet his abductors' demand for the release of women prisoners.

Abdallah al-Khalidi, Saudi Arabia's deputy consul in the Yemeni port city of Aden, appeared in good health as he reiterated his appeal to King Abdullah and other senior members of the ruling family.

"I ask them: 'Why did you refuse the organization's demand to release those women from prison?' Don't forget me, my fate is linked to those womens'," the diplomat said in the video posted late on Sunday in an Internet forum used by al Qaeda members.

It was the second video to show Khalidi since his capture in March. There was nothing in the video to indicate when it was recorded and its authenticity could not be verified.

"My fate is unknown as long as the women are in prison. Release those women, they release me the next day," he said, wearing a traditional white robe and red head-dress.

The women, who are being held by Saudi security services, are relatives of al Qaeda fighters, he said.

Khalidi made a similar plea in a video posted in May.

In April, a militant who claimed responsibility for Khalidi's kidnapping threatened to kill him unless a ransom was paid and al Qaeda prisoners were freed from Saudi jails.

Yemen's state news agency SABA reported that Saudi Arabia plans to reopen its embassy in Sanaa, which was closed after Khalidi's kidnapping. SABA cited a telephone call between King Abdullah and Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi on Sunday night in which the Saudi king reportedly said he would soon order the opening of the embassy in the Yemeni capital.

In a separate incident on Monday, an intelligence officer was killed when an explosive device planted in his car blew up in Yemen's capital Sanaa, a medical source told Reuters.

The car was parked near Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi's residence, a police source said, adding: "The explosion had all the marks of an al Qaeda operation."

The United States and its Gulf Arab allies have watched with mounting alarm as Islamist fighters, emboldened by political instability in Yemen, went on a rampage in the south of the country.

Hundreds of militants have been on the run since U.S.-backed Yemeni forces drove them out of towns and cities they had seized last year.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is seen by U.S. officials as the most dangerous offshoot of the global militant network.

(Reporting by Mohammed Ghobari; Writing by Rania El Gamal; Editing by Amena Bakr and Michael Roddy)