In The Media

Wife of American Detained in Yemen Publicly Calls for Release

Written by Staff
By ADAM GOLDMAN

WASHINGTON — The wife of an American man secretly detained in Yemen for more than a year said in a Facebook posting that her husband was being held “unjustly” by one of the country’s security agencies and expressed disappointment that the United States government has been unable to free him.

Jihan Mohamed said her husband, Wallead Yusuf Pitts Luqman, was abducted in April 2015.

This is the first time that Mr. Luqman has been publicly identified as being held by the Houthis, a Shiite rebel group, in Yemen. The family had stayed silent for fear that public discussion of his kidnapping could endanger his life.

Ms. Mohamed said late Thursday on Facebook that her husband was arrested while trying to leave Yemen. The family was on a bus headed for Saudi Arabia when he was taken.

Ms. Mohamed, who is living in Minnesota, said Mr. Luqman was held by the Houthi political security organization in Yemen, one of the nation’s two security agencies.

“They had no reason to take him and there are no charges,” she said. “After months of not knowing his condition or where he was, I finally received proof of life this year.”

She did not provide details on the proof of life. She did not respond to an email.

Mr. Luqman had been teaching English in Yemen, Ms. Mohamed said, and “allowing his children to experience a more simple life and to not take things for granted.” His profile on LinkedIn says he had been in Yemen since 2013 and had previously lived in Minnesota, Georgia and the Milwaukee area.

United States officials said he was not working for the American government when he was abducted.

Mr. Luqman, who is about 37 years old, was one of several Americans detained and held in secret after civil war erupted in Yemen and the Houthis took control of parts of the country, including Sana, the country’s capital. Some of the Americans detained had prior military experience like Mr. Luqman.

The United States has had some success in getting American detainees released in Yemen, including two men who were freed last week through the efforts of the F.B.I.-led Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell and the State Department. The cell was created last year to better assist families of hostages and to improve government efforts to win their release.

In September 2015, American officials thought they had a deal with the Houthi government in Yemen to release Mr. Luqman and two other Americans, but he was not brought to the airport where a plane was waiting to take him to Oman. The Houthis claimed they did not know his location. The plane left the country with the others but not Mr. Luqman.

“While other Americans continue to be released, Wallead is left behind,” Ms. Mohamed wrote in the Facebook post. “Wallead has missed too much, his children need him in their life, he needs to come home now.”

A few of previous American captives have said they were beaten while in Houthi custody. Last fall, two contractors, John A Hamen III and Mark McAlister, were abducted at the airport in Sana. They were jailed, interrogated and accused of being spies.

After diplomatic talks, the Houthis released Mr. McAlister after 192 days. Mr. Hamen, a father of seven, never left Yemen and died in November. A federal suit filed in July on behalf of the men said Mr. Hamen died of asphyxia, and it described his death as a homicide. The suit accused the Houthis of torturing the men.

In her Facebook posting, Ms. Mohamed pleaded with the Houthis to release her husband.

“Wallead has been gone from his family for too long and it is time for him to come home to his family,” she said. “He is a good family man, good Muslim, and he should be returned to his wife and children.”

Original Article