RIYADH (Reuters) - A Saudi Arabian diplomat returned to Riyadh on Monday after being released by kidnappers in Yemen where he spent three years as a hostage, the kingdom’s Interior Ministry said in a statement carried by state media.
Abdullah al-Khalidi, Saudi consul in Aden, was seized in March 2012 and later appeared as a hostage in videos released by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) calling on Riyadh to do more to free him.
The Interior Ministry did not say in its brief statement how Khalidi came to be released, except that it was a result of “intensive efforts” made by the kingdom’s intelligence agency.
AQAP and its parent organization al Qaeda have sworn to bring down the Saudi state and Riyadh has worked closely with the United States to undermine the groups’ operations in Yemen by sharing intelligence, diplomats have said.
Saudi Arabia, Yemen’s most powerful neighbor, fears that growing instability there might give more space for AQAP to operate and launch more operations like a cross-border raid it carried out in August in which eight people were killed.
Reporting by Angus McDowall; Editing by Sami Aboudi and Tom Heneghan