x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

German hostages released in Yemen

Kidnappers release three Germans after the Yemeni government agree to meet some of their conditions, mediators said.

SANA'A, Yemen // Kidnappers have released three Germans after the Yemeni government agreed to meet some of their conditions, including paying a ransom and releasing some tribesmen from prison, mediators said today. The Germans were due to arrive by the late afternoon in the capital city of Sana'a, said Ahmed Ubad Sherif, one of the leading mediators from the Khawlan tribe. Mr Sherif said the Germans were being taken care of by Sheikh Abdel Qawi Ubad, the deputy governor of the Al-Dhala province in Southern Yemen. The deputy governor is also a senior tribal member.

A second tribal official, who was also mediating, said the kidnappers released the hostages after the government agreed to their conditions to release some tribesmen in Yemeni prisons. The mediator, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said a ransom of 20 million Riyals (Dh367,000) was paid by the Yemeni government. A Yemeni security official told the Associated Press that the Yemeni authorities had heard of the release and were sending a team to the Al-Dhala province to take custody of the Germans.

He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the news media. The three Germans - an aid worker based in Yemen and her visiting mother and father - were kidnapped Monday by Bani Dhabyan tribesmen in Dhamar province, located about 65 miles south of the capital. The mediators had said the kidnappers' leader, Sheikh Abed Rabbo Saleh al-Tam, had initially demanded the release of a cleric, Sheikh Mohammed Ali Hassan al-Moayad, jailed in the United States on terrorism charges.

Al-Moayad was sentenced in 2005 in New York to 75 years in prison for supporting terrorism. In October, an appeals court overturned his conviction and ordered a retrial because of inflammatory testimony about unrelated terrorism cases in his first trial. The demand was in addition to others made by Sheikh al-Tam for the release of his son and brother from Yemeni jails. Sheikh al-Moayad was convicted of conspiring to support and attempting to support al Qa'eda and the Palestinian extremist group Hamas.

He was lured to Germany by two FBI informants in 2003 and secretly recorded promising to funnel money to Hamas and al Qa'eda. He also boasted that Osama bin Laden called him "my sheikh." He was arrested by German police and sent to the United States. *AP