News

Al-Qaida Claims Kidnapping of Saudi Diplomat in Yemen, Makes Demands

Saudi Arabia says al-Qaida has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of a Saudi diplomat in Yemen last month and threatened to kill the man unless the kingdom releases detained militants.

Saudi officials said Tuesday the terrorist network's regional affiliate, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, claimed the kidnapping in a phone call to the Saudi Embassy in Yemen. They identified the caller as a wanted Saudi terror suspect, Mashaal Rasheed al-Shawdakhi.

Gunmen abducted the Saudi deputy consul in the Yemeni port city of Aden outside his home on March 28.

The Saudi government said al-Shawdakhi demanded the release of militants jailed in Saudi Arabia and a ransom payment in exchange for the diplomat. It said the caller warned that al-Qaida will kill the diplomat, attack a Saudi embassy and assassinate a Saudi prince if the demands are not met. Riyadh rejected the threats.

Kidnappings: a new tactic

Kidnappings of foreigners for ransom are common in Yemen, an impoverished nation where al-Qaida militants and other rebels control large swathes of territory.

But the seizing of the Saudi diplomat in Aden appears to be a new tactic for al-Qaida, according to senior analyst Robert Powell of the Economist Intelligence Unit research institute.

Reached by phone in New York, Powell said al-Qaida usually executes its prisoners or attempts assassinations such as a 2009 suicide bombing in Saudi Arabia that failed to kill the country's deputy interior minister.

Al-Qaida bluster


Powell said al-Shawdawki's warning of further attacks on Saudi targets "sounds like bluster." He said Saudi Arabia's diplomatic and economic facilities are well-defended, and there is no indication that al-Qaida has the power to launch coordinated attacks against them.

The EIU analyst said the Saudi government has not negotiated with high-level al-Qaida figures in the past because the group is dedicated to overthrowing the Saudi monarchy. But he said the Saudis have shown a "considerable willingness" to engage with lower-level militants.

Powell said Saudi Arabia has tried to re-educate al-Qaida members, teaching them a "new path within Islam, away from violence and toward a more peaceful form of jihad." He said these efforts are aimed at assimilating militants into local tribes and stripping them away from the central organization.


Michael Lipin

Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin
This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
Maia Pujara
July 07, 2015 10:01 PM
A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbs

A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deal

If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.

VOA Blogs