Last updated: 2 July, 2012

New appeal by Qaeda-held Saudi diplomat

A Saudi diplomat abducted by Al-Qaeda in Yemen’s south has made a new appeal to King Abdullah to secure his release by meeting the demands of his captors, according to a video posted on jihadist forums.

“Why are you refusing to free the prisoners?” Abdullah al-Khalidi asked the Saudi monarch in the video posted Sunday and published hours later by SITE Intelligence Group.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula abducted Khalidi, Saudi Arabia’s deputy consul in Yemen’s main southern city of Aden, on March 28 in a bid to secure the release of female prisoners and collect a ransom.

“My fate is tied to these (jailed) women, do not leave me to my fate,” said Khalidi who appeared relaxed in the nearly three-minute video. “Release these women to set me free.”

Khalidi had made a similar appeal on May 25.

A Saudi interior ministry spokesman at the time, cited by the official SPA news agency, warned that the abductors were “responsible for the security of Abdullah al-Khalidi.”

Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for Khalidi’s abduction in a telephone call to Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Yemen in April.

Khalidi is the third Saudi national to be kidnapped in Yemen in as many years.

In April 2011, tribesmen seized a Saudi diplomat in the capital Sanaa. Saeed al-Maliki, a second secretary at the Saudi embassy, was released nine days later.

And in November 2010, gunmen abducted a Saudi doctor in north Yemen and demanded nine jailed Al-Qaeda militants be freed. He was released the same day after tribal mediation.

Al-Qaeda has exploited the weakening central government in Sanaa to strengthen their presence in Yemen, launching deadly attacks against security forces, especially across the restive south and southeast.

Saudi Arabia itself witnessed a wave of deadly attacks by Al-Qaeda between 2003 and 2006, which prompted authorities to launch a crackdown on the local branch of the jihadist network founded by slain Saudi-born Osama bin Laden.