$25,000 Ransom Paid for Saudi in Iraq

 

Thursday  July 3, 2003

Mahmoud Ahmed, Arab News Staff

DAMMAM, 3 July 2003 ó A criminal gang in southern Iraq has released a Saudi businessman representing many Saudi companies in Iraq three days after they abducted him, after being paid a ransom of $25,000. Abdul Kareem Al-Rayes told Al-Watan daily that he entered Iraq from Al-Abdali in Kuwait to represent Saudi companies negotiating reconstruction and importing contracts. His trip to Iraq was to negotiate directly with Iraqi businessmen.

He was kidnapped as he was on his way to Friday prayers with the leader of the Al-Dawaser tribe. Two cars blocked their path, he said, and four armed men forced the Saudi to accompany them. They took him to an isolated place and left him there for three days under heavy guard. They contacted his family, seeking $100,000 as ransom.

However, Al-Rayes went on a hunger strike and when the gang saw this, they lowered their ransom demand to $25,000. Al-Rayes had his cell phone and was able to contact his family and ask for the money.

Iraqi businessmen in Basra paid the ransom and Al-Rayes was released; his brothers then paid the businessmen the money.

Al-Rayes warned Saudis not to travel to Iraq because of the unstable situation in the country. He has now resolved not to travel to Iraq again.

He also told Al-Watan of another Saudi businessman who has allegedly been held for 25 days and who has refused to pay any ransom. According to Al-Rayes, the manís name is Nasser Al-Suqeer, and he was kidnapped in the area of Al-Zubair.

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