Fears that kidnapped Saudi diplomat Abdullah Al-Khalidi will be executed have increased after a video featuring Al-Khalidi speaking about intelligence actions against Al-Qaeda militants in Yemen was released on the internet.
A relative of prominent sheikh Tareq Al-Fadhli – who is currently leading the mediation process with Al-Qaeda which seeks to secure Al-Khalidi’s release – said that mediations and negotiations with the kidnappers continue to be held but that negotiators face huge difficulties in communicating with the kidnappers as a result of intense fighting against Al-Qaeda militants in Abyan.
A source close to Ansar Al-Sharia in Abyan said that Al-Khalidi may already have been relocated to Al-Houta district in Shabwa governorate when the Yemeni army commenced military operations to liberate areas controlled by Al-Qaeda in Abyan. According to the source, those actions involved with continuing to hold Al-Khalidi are overseen by Saudis who provide support to Al-Qaeda.
In this regard, a source in Aden revealed that intensive efforts to have Al-Khalidi released – including direct communication with Ansar Al-Sharia leaders in Abyan – are being carried out by Saudi authorities. “The Saudi ambassador in Yemen has had direct meetings with a number of Yemeni mediators to discuss the issue of Al-Khalidi and ways to obtain his release,” added the source.
The source also noted that the Saudi ambassador received a letter from Al-Qaeda by way of one of the mediators and that the letter included a number of conditions to be met before Al-Khalidi would be released. The source did not report any progress in the mediation and negotiation process.