Al Qaeda demand ransom for Saudi diplomat
Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat – Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of a Saudi diplomat in Yemen, demanding an unspecified ransom, as well as the release of prisoners held by Riyadh, in exchange for his release. Suspected Al Qaeda militant, Mishaal al-Shadoukhi, contacted the Saudi embassy in Yemen to claim responsibility for the kidnapping of Saudi diplomat Abdullah Al-Khalidi on behalf of the Al Qaeda organization. Al-Shadoukhi claimed to be acting on behalf of Nasser Al-Wahaishi, a senior leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula organization. Al-Shadoukhi was named on a 2009 list of fugitive Al Qaeda militants wanted by the Saudi authorities.
Saudi Interior Ministry spokesman, Major General Mansour al-Turki, informed Asharq Al-Awsat said that the most important thing is to verify whether Al-Khalidi is being held by Al Qaeda elements, and if so to ensure that he is unhurt, and remains so. He confirmed that Saudi Arabia is counting on the cooperation of the Yemeni people to play a supporting role in securing the safe release of the Saudi diplomat, who was kidnapped on 28 March.
A well-informed security source also told Asharq Al-Awsat that Al Qaeda is known to pursue a policy of kidnapping; therefore it is not surprising that the terrorist organization has claimed responsibility for the abduction of diplomat Abdullah al-Khalidi. He added that Al Qaeda’s methods and actions are strongly rejected by the Muslim people of the world.
The source also revealed that Mishaal Mohammed Rasheed al-Shadoukhi was previously held in Guantanamo Bay, and he was among the first former Guantanamo Bay detainees to be repatriated to Saudi Arabia. Following his repatriation, he underwent the “Munasaha” rehabilitation program and was released, however he later fled to Yemen and reportedly rejoined Al Qaeda.
The security source stressed that the “Munasaha” program, which aims to rehabilitate those detainees returning from Guantanamo Bay, as well as other extremists, via religious and ideological lessons, as well as sociological study, aims to promote a moderate ideology; however not all those who undergo this program return to the correct path.
Major General Mansour al-Turki revealed that Abdullah Al-Khalidi is the Saudi Deputy Consul in Aden, and his duties include granting Yemeni citizens visas to visit Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi embassy in Sanaa received a telephone phone call from Mishaal Al-Shadoukhi who claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of Al-Khalidi on behalf of the Al Qaeda organization. The call was put through to Saudi Ambassador to Yemen, Ali Al-Hamdan, who spoke with Al-Shadoukhi. The transcript of that call is as follows:
[Al-Shadoukhi] How are you?
[Ambassador] I am fine, thank you. How is Al-Khalidi?
[Al-Shadoukhi] He is fine and in good health. Everything is good. The group would like to tell you something.
[Al-Shadoukhi] We cannot speak on the phone. You may decide the suitable way to discuss this case. Send us any one from your side, whether a Saudi or a Yemeni, as you like.
[Ambassador] Where do you want me to send him?
[Al-Shadoukhi] Send him to Abyan…to Jaar. When he arrives tell him to call this number, or before he travels, tell him to call and give us a confirmed time of his arrival.
[Ambassador] I cannot. You do not know me and I do not know you. Is this necessary?
[Al-Shadoukhi] OK. I’ve got some questions for you. He said call Ali Al-Hamdan.
[Ambassador] Yes. I am speaking.
[Al-Shadoukhi] He said call Abu Faris [Ali al-Hamdan’s kunya]. I have some questions to ask you. We do not want any third party to interfere in this issue. We only want to discuss this matter with the Saudi government.
[Ambassador] OK. Tell me. You can explain it to me, now.
[Al-Shadoukhi] The demands will not work. You know that the situation in the country is not stable. The group here has tried cases similar to this. Talking on the phone does not work. Do you want to be reassured about him [Al-Khalidi] and that we are holding him and that he is fine? I may try to help you in this regard.
[Ambassador] Yes, we must be reassured about his safety. We are worried about him.
[Al-Shadoukhi] I swear, he is fine.
[Ambassador] I cannot continue this conversation unless I hear his voice.
[Al-Shadoukhi] I am one of you. I am a Saudi, not a Yemeni.
[Ambassador] Are you a Saudi?
[Al-Shadoukhi] I am a Saudi. The state knows me. I have been in Yemen for a while. We can communicate with each other later. I was only asked to convey a message, since I am a Saudi and know the country of my people. I will tell the group here that Abu Faris wants to be reassured about (the fate of Al-Khalidi) and I will ask them to inform me about the best way to reassure you. For example, whether they will allow Abdullah to call? Do you have another idea? I have some questions for you but I will prepare them and call you later on this number. The group has some demands which I can convey as they are. I have been entrusted with this mission as a sign that everything is alright. I have been directed to talk plainly and tell you who I am and what my name is…the state knows me.
[Ambassador] Since the state knows you, why don’t you tell me your name?
[Al-Shadoukhi] My name is Mishaal Mohammed Al-Shadoukhi.
[Ambassador] Are you from Qassim?
[Al-Shadoukhi] Yes, of course.
[Ambassador] It seems that you have forgotten the Qassim accent.
[Al-Shadoukhi] No, I did not. I was brought up in Yemen, and this has affected my accent.
[Ambassador] People from Qassim never lose their accent.
[Al-Shadoukhi] I am from Buraidah, take it as you like.
[Ambassador] Yes. It is clear.
[Al-Shadoukhi] I called the group and they told me to speak to you on the phone. Is that OK with you?
[Ambassador] Yes. It is OK.
[Al-Shadoukhi] I have some demands.
[Ambassador] What are they?
[Al-Shadoukhi] Write them down.
[Ambassador] Yes, go ahead.
[Al-Shadoukhi] The first demand is the release of all female prisoners in Saudi Arabia, handing them over to us in Yemen.
[Ambassador] What if they don’t want to go to Yemen? What will you do?
[Al-Shadoukhi] We will consult on this later. They are saying, just take the demands.
[Ambassador] OK. What is the second demand?
[Al-Shadoukhi] Do not rush.
[Ambassador] OK, go ahead.
[Al-Shadoukhi] We want them to be handed over to us in Yemen…this includes Al-Qusair, Najwa Al-Saedi, Arwa Baghdadi, Hanan Samkari, Nejla Al-Roumi and Haifi Al-Ahmadi. They are all in Saudi prisons.
[Ambassador] Yes. I cannot hear you.
[Al-Shadoukhi] The second demand is the release of all detainees held in the prisons of the General Directorate of Investigation.
[Ambassador] OK. What else?
[Al-Shadoukhi] Also, the release of all those detained without any charges.
[Al-Shadoukhi] At the top of the list are Sheikh Faris Al-Zahrani, Sheikh Nasser Al-Fahd, Sheikh Abdulkareem Al-Huamid, Abdulaziz Al-Tuwailei, Sulaiman Al-Alwan, Walid Al-Sinani, Ali Khudair Mohammed Al-Saqabi and Khalid Al-Rashid. The sheikhs should be handed over to us in Yemen. That is the second demand, OK. This is the third demand…
[Ambassador] You have already said the third demand…this is the fourth demand.
[Al-Shadoukhi] OK. This is for the release of all Yemeni prisoners held by the General Directorate of Investigations.
[Ambassador] There is no General Directorate of Investigations here.
[Al-Shadoukhi] No, the whole General Directorate of Investigations, without exception.
[Al-Shadoukhi] Finally, the fifth demand is the payment of a ransom, the sum of which is to be agreed later. In any case, I am only conveying the message. I swear, there are people here who, since the moment Al-Khalidi has been in our custody, have been saying ‘get the knives ready!’
[Ambassador] Mishaal, have you now started to target us?
[Al-Shadoukhi] I am telling you what the commander of the organization asked me to communicate to you, in this regard.
[Ambassador] Who is the commander of the organization?
[Al-Shadoukhi] Nasser Al-Wahaishi. The state knows him. You are the Saudi ambassador to Yemen; you should know all these matters. Nasser Al-Wahaishi, Saeed Al-Shihri and Qasim Al-Roumi are all known to the state. Today, a consul is kidnapped. Tomorrow, an embassy would be bombed and a prince killed.