Bangladeshi UN official Lt Col AKM Sufiul Anam (retd), who had been abducted by Yemen’s branch of Al-Qaeda, returned home on Wednesday after 18 months.
Sufiul Anam landed on the Hazrat Shajalal International Airport in Dhaka by a flight of Emeritus Airlines in around 6:30pm. At the airport, he shared his ordeal with the media that he underwent during the hostage period.
Sufiul Anam said, “I never thought I would return home after being abducted by the terrorists. I had gone through a horrifying atmosphere over the past 18 months. I thought the terrorists might kill me anytime.”
Sufiul Anam was the field coordination officer of the UN Department of Safety and Security in Aden, capital of worn-torn Yemen.
On 11 February 2022, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) kidnapped Anam and four others as they were returning to the port city of Aden from Mudiyah after a field mission.
The militants demanded USD 30 million as ransom for the release of Sufiul Anam.
On 29 December 2022, the foreign ministry approved the visit of a five-member team led by Col Kazi Mohammad Zakaria to Yemen. Sufiul Anam was rescued on Tuesday and brought to the the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
At the airport, Sufuil Anam told the journalists, “I was abducted one year and six months ago while returning to Aden after carrying out my professional duty. There were four of my colleagues. My days were miserable. There was a fear of death every day; it cannot be expressed in words; it is seen in films only.”
Saying that terrorists kept them in hills and deserts, Sufiul Anam added, “I was blindfolded all the time. The terrorists changed my location 18 times and kept me at 10 places. Fortunately, they did not torture me.”
The kidnappers did not provide any good meals once they fell short of money, he added.
Replying to a query on why they were targeted by terrorists, Sufiul Anam said, “I think they target us because we are the employees of the United Nations. The made video on their demands, but I can say no more for security concern. I talked to my family for the first time on Tuesday after being released.”
“I thought everyone forgot me, but when I met the National Security Intelligence (NSI) member I understood they did not forget me,” he added.
Sufiul Anam thanked prime minister for his release and bringing him home. He also thanked the NSI officials saying, “I will not forget their cooperation.” This former army official also said he would take up the challenge in need of the country
NSI director Imrul Mahmud said, “It was a long process to rescue Sufiul Anam, and the success came after an effort of one and a half years. The kidnappers had demanded USD 3 million in ransom, but we did not need to pay any money.”
NSI additional director Badrul Hasan Chowdhury and deputy director Badrul Hasan Bidyut were also present.