Saudi Arabian Diplomat Freed After 3 Years as Al Qaeda Hostage in Yemen

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Image: Abdullah al-Khalidi
A handout picture of a video grab provided by the SITE Intelligence Group on July 2, 2012 shows then kidnapped Saudi diplomat in Yemen Abdullah al-Khalidi speaking in a renewed video appeal from an undisclosed location. Khalidi, kidnapped in Yemen almost three years ago and handed to Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, has been freed and returned to the kingdom, the interior ministry said on March 2.SITE INTELLIGENCE GROUP / AFP - Getty Images

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RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — 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. Abdullah al-Khalidi 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 carried by state media how al-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.

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.

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— Reuters

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