Written By: Shuaib M. al-Mosawa
Article Date: Jul 29, 2012 - 2:06:08 AM
A tribal mediation effort to release the Saudi diplomat kidnapped by al-Qaeda militants was halted by the Saudi brokers, a tribal leader taking part in a mediation effort told Observer late on Thursday on a phone interview.
Abdullah al-Khalidi, the Saudi deputy consul in Yemen, was kidnapped by al-Qaeda in late March, demanding the release of al-Qaeda linked women jailed in Saudi Arabia and millions of dollars in ransom.
The tribal leader, an Abyan tribal sheikh who preferred to speak on the condition of being anonymous, said that they were about to reach an agreement last week but that the other party did not follow their words. “They told us the other week that the ransom is ready and that we have to release al-Khalidi and get the money. It turned out that the money wasn’t ready,” the tribal leader said.
Al-Khalidi had appealed, through videos posted on Jihadist media, to Saudi officials to respond to the al-Qaeda conditions and demands in order for him to be released.
The tribal mediation to release al-Khalidi, which started months ago but was unsuccessful, was resumed earlier in the week as the news of the freed al-Qaeda linked women in KSA emerged.
A Saudi court has released five women who allegedly had links with al-Qaeda, reported AFP on July 23, but implied that the move was unrelated to demands made by captors holding a Saudi diplomat in Yemen. "Five women held on security charges have been released based on judicial orders in two different cases," interior ministry spokesman Mansur al-Turki told AFP.
“They [al-Qaeda] have no more conditions now but the ransom,” the tribal leader said. He said that the mediation, which he acknowledged was one of few similar efforts seeking the release of al-Khalidi, has contacted unofficial people who claimed they were relatives of al-Khalidi.
“I was in Sana’a in the last week among a mediation effort to free the Saudi diplomat held captive by al-Qaeda. They [al-Qaeda] demanded Saudi Ryial 200,000,000 [equal to USD 533, 200,00.00 in ransom].
“They [al-Qaeda] said that the condition they set regarding releasing al-Qaeda linked women imprisoned in Saudi jails was resolved but that the ransom they asked in order for the Saudi diplomat to be released is yet to be met,” said the tribal leader.
“There are brokers in Sana’a who said they would give the money, which made us contact al-Qaeda since a week.”
The brokers, described by the tribal leader as Yemeni arm dealers, asked the mediators to stay for three days in the capital while the brokers were in contact with their concerned parties. “Eventually, we met another trader who too asked to wait for another week,” added the tribal leader.
Handover of diplomat
The mediator said once they reached the point at which they conduct the handover, the guarantee of the overall transaction aroused. “We suggested that some al-Qaeda linked people stay with the brokers so they would give us the money, bring the diplomat to them and get back the men,” the tribal leader said.
He said that no progress made so he along with the other mediators left to Abyan “we felt there was no seriousness by the brokers to move on.”
The brokers told the tribal leader they have nothing to do with Saudi officials and that they represented Saudi nationals related to the diplomat. “But it seems they [brokers] have been asked not to reveal that they represent Saudi officials,” he said, adding that they are resuming the mediation within two days.
The kidnapped Swiss woman
In a similar move to free another foreign person kidnapped by al-Qaeda, there has been a mediation effort to free a Swiss women who was kidnapped by al-Qaeda in last mid March.
A mediator in the capital Sana’a told the Yemen Observer that the kidnappers demanded five million dollars in ransom. He said the one leading the mediation from the Swiss part was not serious enough after he was informed of the al-Qaeda condition. “We provided the Swiss with an updated footage of the Swiss woman to show them she was still alive but they were not serious enough. The mediation is still going on, however,” said the mediator.
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