Suspected al-Qaeda terrorists kidnapped an unidentified Swiss woman in Hodeida (on the Red Sea) on Wednesday (March 14) and have reportedly moved her across three provinces and her holding her in the southeastern province of Shabwa.
The motive for the abduction is to apply pressure on the Government of Yemen to release two al-Qaeda militants who are in government custody in Hodeida.
COMMENT: Shabwa is well-known as being a stronghold for Jihadists who represent the Partisans of Sharia (Islamic law). The Swiss Foreign Ministry has acknowledged the woman's abduction; last year Switzerland urged its citizens in Yemen to leave the country.
In May, the Islamic militants took control of Zinjibar, capital of Abyan province which borders Shabwa, as well as several other southern towns, triggering months of deadly fighting with government troops.
As I have said in previous postings, over the last 15-20 years, an estimated 250 people, mostly foreigners, have been kidnapped in Yemen. Most of been seized by regional tribesmen who have kidnapped in order to apply pressure on the central government. Most of all been treated very well and released unharmed.
On February 1 of this year, four aid workers (a Colombian, a German, a Palestinian and an Iraqi) were freed a day after being abducted by armed men northeast of the capital of Sana'a.
A Norwegian UN employee, who was abducted by tribesmen in Sana'a on January 14, was released unharmed almost ten days later.
Al-Qaeda continues to prefer its principal tactic of large-scale, mass-casualty bombings, yet in both Yemen and Sub-Saharan Africa, kidnappings are considered to be its tactical choice.