Freed Saudi envoy recalls his ordeal in Al-Qaeda captivity

Abdullah Al-Khalidi shakes hands with his aunt upon his arrival at King Khaled International Airport in Riyadh on March 2.

Abdullah Al-Khalidi shakes hands with his aunt upon his arrival at King Khaled International Airport in Riyadh on March 2.

The Saudi diplomat who was abducted and freed recently in Yemen, Abdullah Al-Khalidi, is scheduled to appear on Saudi TV Channel 1 on Sunday night to share his painful experience at the hands of Al-Qaeda in Yemen.

The program, titled “Humumuna” (Our Concerns), will feature his talk after the primetime news broadcast.

During the three years Al-Khalidi was in captivity, the diplomat relied on the Almighty Allah with the firm belief that his government would never be lax in resolving the issue. He hoped that the Kingdom would work silently without making any wrong move that would provoke the militants and put his life in danger.

Al-Khalidi’s duty as a Saudi consul was to help Yemenis trying to visit the Kingdom either to perform Umrah, or do business, and his tasks did not have any political or security implications.

While he was waiting to drive to his office on that fateful day, some strangers approached him. Al-Khalidi claims he did not have the slightest hint of what was to come because several people used to come to him for clarifications and information about trips to the Kingdom. His reaction to the strangers who stopped him on that day was natural and humanitarian.

“I suspected something was wrong when I realized that they were heavily armed. I did not make any attempt to resist. Initially, I figured that I was kidnapped by some tribal gangs for ransom. But later, I learned that I was taken hostage by Al-Qaeda. I had some suspicion in the beginning as the dialect of my captors was different from the tribal communities in Yemen. When a senior Al-Qaeda man visited me, that is when I realized that this was not just an attempt to collect ransom,” he said.

Al-Khalidi said they kept on asking him about Al-Qaeda, but he told them that he did not have any information about any such group as his only concern was his job of issuing visas and passports and dealing with other consulate affairs.

“It was because of the state of the insecurity in Yemen that I had to stay for three years in captivity, and all these years my companion, enjoyment and consolation was the Holy Qur’an,” he said, adding that the demands he made on videos during captivity were under duress.

The diplomat also reveals how he managed to contact Saudi Ambassador Ali Al-Hamdan and how he was freed and spectacular reception that he received from Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif after his release.


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