By MAAMOUN YOUSSEF
July 2, 2012
CAIRO — Al-Qaida militants in Yemen have posted online a new video of a kidnapped Saudi Arabian diplomat appealing to the kingdom’s rulers to grant his captors’ demands and save his life.
The three-minute clip that appeared on a militant Web site early Monday was similar to another video released in May: The speaker identified himself as Abdullah Mohammed Khalifa al-Khaldi, deputy Saudi consul in the Yemeni port city of Aden, who was kidnapped in March. There was no sign of his captors in either video.
The abducted diplomat said that al-Qaida would release him if the kingdom freed female militant prisoners. “Why you have rejected the organization’s demand to release the women from prison?” he asked, addressing Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah and other senior Saudi officials.
“My fate is tied to these women,” al-Khaldi said. “Release the women and they will free me the next day.”
The video was produced by al-Malahem, the media arm of the terror network’s Yemen branch, known as Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. It is considered by the U.S. to be the movement’s most dangerous offshoot.
Political turmoil caused by an uprising last year has caused a security vacuum in Yemen. Al-Qaida seized large swaths of territory across the restive south, but government forces have recently launched several offensives that forced the militants to flee towns held by them for more than a year.
“Please don’t leave me to an unknown fate as long as these women are in prison,” said al-Khaldi, who appeared dressed in a Saudi-style white Arab robe and checkered headdress. The Saudi Interior Ministry has said earlier that the demands also include paying a ransom and releasing other male prisoners.
It said that a Saudi citizen on the kingdom’s most-wanted list of terror suspects, Mashaal Rasheed al-Shawdakhi, relayed the demands by telephone to the Saudi embassy in Yemen, and that he warned that the diplomat could be killed if they were not met.