UAE saves UK hostage from Al-Qaeda as terror group reportedly seizes key Aden port
United Arab Emirates’ troops have rescued a British national, who was captured by a Yemeni branch of Al-Qaeda 18 months ago, state news agency WAM reported. Meanwhile, reports emerged that the port city of Aden was in the hands of the terrorist organization.
Douglas Robert Semple, 64, is a petroleum engineer, who was abducted in the Hadramaut area in February 2014, the report said. He was rescued by UAE troops in a military intelligence operation in the contested Yemeni port city of Aden.
Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan informed British Prime Minister David Cameron of the rescue in a phone call, WAM said. The man has been flown to Abu Dhabi to meet the British ambassador and undergo a medical evaluation to check his health after captivity.
The Foreign Office confirmed the hostage had been freed, with Secretary Philip Hammond thanking the UAE for their help. The office would not confirm the identity of the rescued Briton and advised the media against trying to contact his family. However, his name has been released.
Al-Qaeda has reportedly utilized the opening provided by the ongoing chaos in Yemen to make gains. One of the leading daily Arab-language newspapers, Al-Hayat has reported that dozens of armed Al-Qaeda militants have been patrolling the streets in several parts of Aden. The terror group's black flags could be seen flying above a number of government buildings, including the port's administration, the newspaper reported.
At the same time, Yemeni Deputy Interior Minister Ali Nasser Lakhshaa said on Sunday that Aden was not controlled by Al-Qaeda, with other militants being behind the capture of the key port. The country's security forces know who those militants are and what political aims they are trying to pursue, the official told the Al Arabiya channel.
"The way they act shows that they are not from Al-Qaeda," the minister said, as quoted by TASS.
Yemen remains in turmoil as forces loyal to former President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi supported by Saudi Arabia are battling against Houthi rebels and troops loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
AQAP, the Yemeni branch of Al-Qaeda forces, active since the 1990s, are themselves being challenged by groups that pledged allegiance to the Iraqi-Syrian terrorist group Islamic State, formerly ISIS, which aims to become a dominant force among radical Islamist groups in the greater Middle East.