The UAE diplomat, it may be recalled, was kidnapped by gunmen on Tuesday night while leaving the house of another UAE diplomat in the Mansour neighbourhood of Baghdad, according to Iraqi police.
Gunmen in three cars shot at Al Nuaimi's Sudanese bodyguard, Bedawi Ahmed Ibrahim, who later succumbed to his injuries in a hospital. According to a brother of the diplomat his family was ready to pay ransom to bring Naji home.
“Who would do this? If they want money, we can pay it,” said Mohammed Al Nuaimi, the diplomat’s 29-year-old brother. “We don’t know who is behind it. No one has called us.”
In an interview with the Associated Press, Mohammed Al Nuaimi said his brother joined the diplomatic service just two years ago and had helped diplomats from other countries gain the release of their abducted countrymen in war-torn Iraq, his first overseas posting. He said it was ironic that his brother has suffered the same fate.
Mohammed Al Nuaimi said he believed the UAE government would do what it takes to release his brother, including ransom payments.
“I don’t think they will say no,” he said. “We are all like one family in the Emirates. We’re sure our country will help us.”
Naji’s mother also appealed to kidnappers on Al Arabiya TV to release her son. “I call upon the kidnappers to bring him back. There is no heart as kind as his heart. He is serving the Iraqi people. He loves the Iraq people", his mother Shaikha Ali said in her appeal on Al Arabiya TV.
Meanwhile, Mustafa Alani, an Iraqi security analyst with the Dubai-based Gulf Research Centre said that Al Nuaimi’s abduction was bound to push remaining Arab diplomats working in Baghdad to keep an even lower profile, .
“When this sort of person gets abducted, that tells you how far security has deteriorated,” Alani said. “It’s becoming really difficult for diplomats to operate.”
In Cairo, Arab League chief Amr Moussa said the kidnapping of diplomats was only harming “Arab efforts to get Iraq out of its agony”. Moussa directed the league’s Baghdad office to help secure Al Nuaimi’s release.
But officials in UAE say hope for Al Nuaimi’s release is based on close ties Emirati diplomats maintain with leaders of Iraq’s Sunni community. In past kidnappings of foreigners in Iraq, UAE diplomats have helped secure the hostages’ safe release.
In October, two Indonesian women who had been held hostage in Iraq were handed directly to UAE’ embassy in Baghdad.
In 2004, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini visited the UAE to ask it to help release two abducted Italian aid workers who were threatened with execution in Iraq. The hostages were freed unharmed.
Efforts were under way yesterday to contact the kidnappers by reaching out to Sunni leaders in Iraq, a government official here said on condition of anonymity, because he was not authorised to speak to the press. Iraqi government authorities had also visited the UAE embassy in Baghdad to offer assistance, the official said.
UAE diplomats were also instrumental in persuading Iraqi Sunnis to participate in this year’s parliamentary elections after boycotting previous votes, the official said.
Iraqi Police Col. Rashid said authorities had made a priority of searching for the abductors, after being given descriptions of the men and their cars.
“We believe the motive for the abduction was political, not criminal,” Rashid said.
In Dubai, Iraq’s former UN Ambassador, Mohammed Aldouri, said he was ready to help secure Al Nuaimi’s release.
“This is unacceptable,” said Aldouri, who has lived in exile in the UAE since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. “I hope those people realise this is a wrongful act and a criminal act. The UAE is a brotherly country. Nobody in Iraq can accept this atrocity.”
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