Al-Qaeda wants diplomat swapped for 15 terrorists

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By RIYADH: ARAB NEWS

Published: Apr 23, 2012 00:26 Updated: Apr 24, 2012 20:34

Al-Qaeda has demanded the release of 15 terrorists including six women in Saudi Arabian jails as part of a swap deal to free diplomat Abdullah Al-Khalidi, local daily Al-Watan reported yesterday.

The Saudi Embassy and Yemeni authorities have been tying to pinpoint the location and secure the release of Deputy Consul Al-Khalidi since he was abducted in Aden on March 28.

The six women terrorists Al-Qaeda wants to be released are Haila Al-Qusayyir, Najwa Al-Saedi, Arwa Baghdadi, Hanan Samkari, Najla Al-Rumi and Haifa Al-Ahmadi.

Others in the list include Faris Al-Zahrani, Nassir Al-Fahd, Abdul Kareem Al-Homaid, Abdul Aziz Al-Towailaei, Sulaiman Al-Olwan, Waleed Al-Sinani, Ali Al-Khodair, Muhammad Al-Soqabi and Khalid Al-Rahshid, an informed source told the local daily.

These people are either convicted on terrorism charges or facing trial in Saudi courts, the source said.

Al-Qaeda’s offer came last week in a call from its spokesman Mishaal Mohammad Rasheed Al-Shodoukhi, No. 85 in the list of wanted terrorists issued by the Saudi authorities to the Saudi Embassy in Sanaa.

This development appears to prove that the Saudi government’s arrest of those Al-Qaeda wanted released was a move in the right direction. It also disproves the accusation by some quarters that the suspects were detained without valid reason.

The abducted diplomat is being held captive in a hostile mountainous area between the Aden and Lahj provinces in Yemen, according to an earlier statement of the Saudi ambassador.

Details of Al-Qaeda’s involvement in the crime emerged later as initially the abduction was described as a tribal act following some differences over a marriage proposal involving the diplomat.

The abduction took place while Al-Khalidi was about to enter his car in front of his house in Mansoora district at about 9 a.m.

Al-Hamdan said: “The embassy is in constant contact with the Yemeni authorities and is working to release the high-ranking diplomat safely.”

Kidnapping incidents have increased in the last few years in Yemen, with tribesmen resorting to abducting foreigners to force the government to release their imprisoned relatives, or demand a ransom.

Aden is the city closest to Yemen’s Abyan province, where government forces have been struggling to contain militant groups linked to Al-Qaeda.

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