Kidnapped Iraqi professor released
The source said that Salah Abdul Jabar Qassem, 58, professor of Physics and chairman of an exam committee at the College of Applied Sciences at Dhamar University, was mysteriously whisked away by armed tribesmen on Saturday, February 25.
The abductors had informed Qassem’s family that they would kill him in case they failed to pay them one million US Dollars in ransom, according to the source.
He said that the kidnappers then lowered their ransom 100,000 US Dollars a couple of days ago; however, he pointed out, they decided to set Qassem free after they failed to receive the money.
Qassem’s release came only after the kidnappers believed that security authorities had found clues to their whereabouts. Also, as the incident was widely reported by the media, the kidnappers began to fear that authorities might round them up.
Local sources said that tribal mediators, including academics from Maifaat Annas, situated nearby Al-Baydha province, received phone calls from the kidnappers last Tuesday in which the latter admitted to the professor’s abduction.
The source quoted intermediaries as saying that the kidnappers were willing to release Qassem, but that they couldn’t do so for fear that security forces might capture them. The Iraqi academic was then released after the brokers agreed with the abductors not to reveal their identities, said the source.
The source made it clear that the professor was then freed unscathed based on mediation efforts from social and educational notables who requested that the abductors should not be identified or apprehended.
One mediator told the Yemen Times that the abduction was masterminded by three individuals, including an Iraqi national, with the aim of blackmailing the victim, whose bank account contained $46,000.
In addition to the bank funds, there was reportedly a desire by the kidnappers to seize control of real estate owned by the victim in his home country of Iraq, the plan including forcing him to renounce the property by signing official documents to that effect.
The mediator, who preferred not to be named, expressed surprise that the Iraqi teacher denied such information but, he said, the victim probably didn’t want to reveal the matter out of fear that his life would be at risk.
A security source from Dhamar University quoted the academic as saying that the kidnappers held him hostage in a dark room and demanded that he pay them one million dollars in ransom if he wished to be released.
The abductors forced the victim to confess in writing that he had raped a girl in 2007 and also audio-taped a confession in a bid to justify his kidnapping, said the source.
The dean of the college of applied sciences at Dhamar University asserted that the Iraqi academician was one of the school's best professors, and that he hadn't ever encountered any problems with him. The dean said that Qassem had treated his students and colleagues kindly since he started working at the college.
A source at the University disclosed that there were indications that the culprits wanted to blackmail the Iraqi professor and his wife, the latter being in possession of several private schools in Rada’a city, the provincial capital of Al-Baydha province. The source said that the abductors believed that the wife would pay them the ransom in order to get her husband released.
He said that two days ahead of his release, Qassem’s wife and son had been attempting to withdraw an amount of up to $40,000 from a bank, which they were planned to pay the abductors to secure his freedom. The source indicated, however, that security authorities stopped them from completing the transaction.