(MENAFN - Arab News) About three weeks have passed since the tragic murder of Saudi diplomat Khaled Al-Enazi, but Yemeni security officials are hitting dead ends in their search for the killer, Saudi and Yemeni officials here said yesterday. "The Yemeni side is exerting all efforts to nab the criminals, who indulged in the heinous crime of killing an innocent Saudi Embassy official and a guard," said a Yemeni diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The diplomat declined, however, to elaborate on the progress made so far in the case. When asked about the kidnapping of Saudi diplomat Abdullah Al-Khaledi some 10 months back and the possibility of his release, he declined to divulge information about the negotiations. But, Alauddin Alaskary, deputy foreign minister for Protocol Affairs, told Arab News that "the Saudi and Yemeni officials are still negotiating with the captors to secure the release of Al-Khaledi as early as possible."
Alaskary said that he was hopeful that the diplomat would be released soon. Al-Khaledi, who worked as deputy consul in the southern Yemeni city of Aden, was kidnapped in March this year. Several rounds of negotiations between Yemeni officials and the kidnappers, known to be tribal Al-Qaeda cadres, to secure the release of the diplomat have met with failure.
Asked about the progress made in the case of the murdered Saudi diplomat, he said that he was not aware of the details of the investigation. But a report published in Asharq Al-Awsat Arabic daily, a sister publication of Arab News, said that the killings of Al-Enazi and his Yemeni guard Jalal Mubarak Shaiban were preceded by death threats against Saudi diplomats in Yemen. The report has quoted Saudi Ambassador Ali Al-Hamdan as saying that the "investigations are ongoing, and as of yet no party has claimed responsibility for the attack."
The report revealed that the car used by the gunmen was a "saloon" car bearing the license plate "1-88215." The car was registered to a Yemeni national by the name of Noman Said Hazam, adding that Hazam had reported his car stolen on Sept. 18. Al-Hamdan expressed his concerns in the report, saying that attacks such as this aim to target the security and stability of both Saudi Arabia and Yemen, as well as the safety of the general public.
He asserted that Riyadh and Sanaa are "more united to confront all kinds of crimes, aggression, conspiracy, risks and evil plots." Saudi Arabia and Yemen have offered a reward of SR5 million for information leading to the killers of the Saudi diplomat. Also, Saudi and Yemeni experts are still divided about the motivation for the attack. Saudi researcher Mohanna Al-Hubail said that it was very unlikely that Al Qaeda was responsible for the diplomat's murder.
For his part, Dr. Mohamed Hamid, an expert in Saudi-Yemeni relations, stressed that the abduction and kidnapping of foreign diplomats in Yemen during the previous regime usually took place for financial reasons, adding that "the (Yemeni) tribes would get involved with this, while the government would then undertake negotiations. We cannot discern, in any way, shape or form, the identity of the perpetrators from what they were wearing."
He added, "It would be very easy for the perpetrators to get their hands on the uniforms and the arms." Hamid revealed attempted abductions of foreign diplomats in Yemen for monetary gain is nothing new, but stressed, "I cannot recall diplomats being targeted for assassination; this was usually confined to financial extortion"
Referring to the conflict that broke out between Saudi Arabia and the Huthi rebels in 2009, Hamid said, "We must also take note that Huthis are hostile to Saudi Arabia."
Saudi security expert Al-Hubail asserted that there are two parties seeking to target Saudi interests in Yemen, namely Al-Qaeda and the Huthi rebels. He said it is unlikely that Al-Qaeda is responsible for this attack, as negotiations over Consul Al-Khalidi are still ongoing, and Al-Qaeda has not announced their failure. Al-Hubail said it was more likely that the Huthi rebels were responsible for this assassination, particularly as the target was a military attache. He said this could be linked to the Saada war and the involvement of Huthi groups in Iran.