Militants post appeal of kidnapped Saudi diplomat

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By MAAMOUN YOUSSEF, Associated Press

CAIRO (AP) — Militants have posted online a video in which a man identifying himself as a Saudi diplomat kidnapped by al-Qaida in Yemen appeals to Saudi Arabia's rulers to respond to his captors' demands and save his life.

In the four-minute clip that appeared on a militant Web site late Friday, a man saying he is Abdullah al-Khaldi asks King Abdullah to grant the kidnappers' demands, including the release of detained women. The video bore the logo of al-Qaida's media arm, al-Malahem.

Al-Khaldi, who is Saudi Arabia's deputy consul in the Yemeni port city of Aden, was abducted in late March. Al-Qaida's Yemen branch claimed responsibility.

"I appeal to King Abdullah, the Custodian of the two Holy Mosques and the Saudi government, to save me and get me out of (captivity by) the al-Qaida organization in exchange for releasing the detained sisters .. and the rest of the demands," al-Khaldi said. He did not say what those other demands were, but Saudi officials say the abductors also asked for a ransom.

Al-Khaldi said in the video that his colleagues had worked as spies helping the Americans. He said three Saudi security officials were involved in "gathering information and data as well as monitoring al-Qaida's sites and commanders .. and the information is being relayed to the American forces to send a plane to these targets."

Al-Khaldi, who appeared dressed in a Saudi-style white Arab robe and checkered headdress, begged the king to return him to his family.

Saudi Interior Ministry has confirmed the kidnapping and said that a Saudi citizen on the kingdom's most-wanted list of terror suspects, Mashaal Rasheed al-Shawdakhi, relayed the demands by telephone to their embassy in Yemen. The Saudis say that al-Qaida's demands included paying a ransom and releasing top al-Qaida prisoners, both Saudi and Yemeni, currently in Saudi jails, as well as half a dozen women prisoners held there.

The Interior Ministry said al-Shawdakhi warned that the diplomat could be killed if the demands were not met.

Yemen's political turmoil has caused a security vacuum in the country, giving al-Qaida the chance to seize large swaths of territory across the restive south. Government forces have recently launched several offensives on militant-held towns.

The United States has thrown its support behind Yemen's new president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who has vowed to combat al-Qaida as a top priority.

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