Saudi abducted in Ethiopia tells about his 4-day ordeal

Abdullah Bahaitham who was kidnapped in Ethiopia for four days. He was kidnapped by his own driver and long-time companion who received him at the airport and took him to a hotel in Addis Ababa. — Okaz photo

By Hussain Hazzazi

Okaz/Saudi Gazette

Abdullah Bahaitham, a Saudi citizen who was kidnapped in Ethiopia for four days, described his trip to the East African country as a nightmare and said it has changed the course of his life.

Bahaitham, a Jeddah resident, said he was kidnapped by his own driver and long-time companion who received him at the airport and took him to a hotel in Addis Ababa.

His said his private driver, named Amin, invited him to his village named Khamisi which is about six hours drive from Addis Ababa.

"I willingly accepted his invitation as he was a long time friend and I trusted him," he said.

Bahaitham recalled that he had helped Amin in the treatment of his daughter and also paid the cost of Umrah for his parents.

He said when he arrived at the village, his family faked a fight among themselves and the driver asked him to pay an amount of SR450,000 to save his life from the family.

"My driver knew very well that I did not have this kind of money so he started bargaining until he came down with the amount to SR100,000," he said.

He said the driver was begging passionately at the beginning but he started demanding the ransom by force.

"I asked him to give me time to arrange the amount and he agreed to give me four days to speak to my family in Jeddah so as to send the money," he added.

Bahaitham said he talked to his family, informed them about the kidnapping by one of his companions and best of friends and asked them to inform the police in Jeddah about the incident.

He said the family not only informed the police but prepared the amount of money protectively.

"The police immediately informed the Saudi ambassador in Ethiopia who on his part informed the concerned Ethiopian authorities who moved fast, came to the village and saved my life," he said.

Bahaitham said Ambassador Sami Jameel spoke on telephone to the kidnapper so as to drag him to the embassy but he refused.

He said he asked the kidnappers to give him extra four days to be able to arrange the money and they agreed.

He said he was put in a lonely room where he went into deep slumber only to find the police in his room when he woke up after about 24 hours.

Bahaitham said the kidnapper asked him to deny the kidnapping so as not to go to jail but he refused.

"The man was arrested and the embassy took good care of me until I returned to Jeddah," he said.