Saudi envoy seized in Yemen urges king not to forget him
DUBAI (Reuters) – A Saudi diplomat kidnapped by al Qaeda-linked militants in Yemen appealed to the Saudi king not to forget about him and meet his abductors’ demand for the release of women prisoners, in a new video posted on the Internet.
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 women’s,” 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.
Separately, 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.
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.
(Writing by Rania El Gamal; Editing by Alessandra Rizzo)