Bani Dhabyan release German hostages but keep 8-year-old Yemeni child [Archives:2008/1218/Front Page]

December 22 2008

Almigdad Mojalli
SANA'A, Dec. 21 ) The three German hostages who were kidnapped by an armed group from the Bani Dhabyan, Khawlan tribe, were released peacefully and without conditions on Friday, bringing to an end their five-day ordeal.

A reliable tribal source, who wishes to remain anonymous, revealed that the hostages were released by Sheikh Abdul Qawi Shereif, the deputy of the Aldhalae governorate, and the head sheikhs of the Bani Dhabyan tribe. “The tribesmen realized that they were creating a negative image of the country by kidnapping foreigners, and agreed to release the hostages without any conditions,” the source said.

The German Minister of Foreign Affairs expressed his relief at hearing of the peaceful release of the three hostages, and expressed his gratitude to the Yemeni government and German embassy for their efforts in this endeavor.

Marcus Abbs, one of the hostages, also thanked the German embassy and the Yemeni government for their role in securing the release of him and his family, but he declined to reveal any other information about the circumstances of the kidnapping.

However, the kidnappers of the 8-year-old child Ali Mohammed Al-Odaini, who was kidnapped on Dec. 3 while he was on his way to the school, refused to release the child despite apparently confusing him with their real target. His abductors thought he was the son a wealthy businessman, with whom they have unresolved disputes, and so took him in error.

Moqbel Moshwah, the child's kidnapper, thought that he was the son of businessman Tawfeq Al-Khameri whose son was kidnapped but released in July 2007 over a dispute regarding a sum of USD $490,000.

Moshwah refused to release the child or allow any communication between him and his mother, even after discovering that the child is an orphan and merely the neighbor of the Al-Khameri family.

The recent events were set in motion in 1998, when Nabil Al-Khameri, the brother of Tawfeq Al-Khameri, wanted to buy mercury illegally from someone in his village and gave them a check for USD $490,000. By the time the seller went to the bank to withdraw the money, Tawfiq Al-Khameri, Nabil's brother, had already notified the authorities. The police were waiting at the bank and arrested the seller upon his arrival

The seller spent six months in prison and eventually gave up his claim to the money. After his release from prison, he returned to Bani Dhabyan and enlisted the help of the tribe in recovering the money from Al-Khameri.

Once Al-Khameri realized the Bani Dhabyan tribe was involved in the issue, he offered two thirds of the sum as a bribe, but the tribe refused and there were violent clashes between the two parties, which led to the death of Mohammed Abdullah Najran, and the injury of four others including Moshwah.

According to some sheikhs in Bani Dhabyan, Al-Khameri paid YR 5 million and gave five cars as compensation for Najran's death, but gave no compensation for Moshwah's injuries.

These events led to the misguided kidnapping of the child, and the subsequent demands for compensation for medical treatment.