Tale of capture: Qaeda wanted to trade Ali Gilani for Zawahiri’s family

Son of former premier details his abduction, treatment


News Desk July 02, 2016
Son of former premier details his abduction, treatment. PHOTO: REUTERS

The militants who had abducted Ali Haider Gilani wanted to trade him for a heavy ransom and some relatives of al Qaeda supremo Ayman al Zawahiri.

“Al Qaeda wanted to trade me for the release of some women related to Ayman al Zawahiri and a large ransom,” Gilani told BBC in an interview about the three years he spent in captivity on Tuesday.

Gilani, son of former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, was abducted from Multan on May 9, 2013, just two days before the 2013 general elections. He was rescued by US special forces in Afghanistan on May 9, 2016.

Gilani said he was kidnapped because of his father. "My father was prime minister when their [al Qaeda] leader Osama bin Laden was killed. He had also ordered an operation in South Waziristan Agency. They [captors] told me they wanted to take revenge," Gilani said.

Gilani said he was kept in a house in Faisalabad after his abduction where his captors chained his feet and sometimes his hands, though they did not torture him.

After two months, they shifted him to North Waziristan Agency. There he was held in Dande Darpa Khel for seven months along with a German national who too had been abducted from Multan.

“I was kept in a small room, not allowed to see the sky for one year and two months. I forgot how the sun felt on my skin."

After a drone strike killed an al Qaeda leader and an American hostage Warren Weinstein, he was handed over to the Taliban in Shawal.

But once the military launched an operation in the area using airstrikes, the Taliban fled across the border into Afghanistan, taking him along sometime in early 2016.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 29th, 2016.

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