Monday, June 24, 2024


Dhaka Tribune

‘Fear of death haunted us every day’

  • Sufiul Anam returns to Bangladesh after 18 months
  • Expresses gratitude to PM Sheikh Hasina and the NSI
  • Was abducted by al-Qaeda in February 2022
  • He was rescued on Tuesday
Update : 15 Aug 2023, 11:56 AM

Lieutenant Colonel (retd) AKM Sufiul Anam, a Bangladeshi UN official who was abducted in southern Yemen 18 months ago by al-Qaeda, returned to Dhaka on Wednesday, a day after his release from captivity.

“I could not even imagine that I would be able to return to the country with my life,” he said at a press briefing upon his arrival at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport on an Emirates flight at around 5:30pm.

He expressed his gratitude to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the National Security Intelligence (NSI) for the rescue efforts.

Sufiul Anam was working as a Field Security Coordination Officer (Head) of the United Nations Department of Safety and Security in Aden when he was abducted on February 11, 2022. He served in the Bangladesh Army from 1977 to 2005 and has been working at the UN since his retirement.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) kidnapped him and four Yemenis in Yemen's southern province of Abyan as they were returning to the port city of Aden after a field mission.

“The last 18 months have been horrendous for me. The feeling was that the terrorists would kill me at any moment,” he said.

The al-Qaeda group demanded $3 million as ransom for him, but the NSI officials said they did not pay any money to rescue him.

A five-member delegation from Bangladesh went to Yemen in search of Sufiul Anam following his abduction.

He was rescued on Tuesday. He was then shifted to the United Arab Emirates from where he returned home.

“We passed indescribable days…fear of death haunted us every day…can’t describe this in words. It can only be seen in movies,” he said.

"I was blindfolded all the time. They kept me in the mountains and desert. They changed my location 18 times and kept me in 10 places. But luckily, they did not torture me.”

He said when the kidnappers ran out of money, they did not feed them properly.

In response to a question of why he had been targeted by the al-Qaeda group, he said, “Maybe because we work for the United Nations. They made videos about their demands.”

He, however, did not spell out all details about his experience in the interest of security.

“I spoke to the family for the first time yesterday after being released,” he said.

“I thought everyone had forgotten me. But after meeting the members of the NSI, it seemed that they had not forgotten me,” he said, thanking the prime minister for rescuing him and bringing him back to the country.

He expressed his gratitude to the NSI officials and said: "I will never forget the way they carried out their responsibility."

As a former military officer, he said, he was ready to take up any challenges for the country.

NSI Director Emrul Mahmud said: “It was a long process to rescue our Sir. Finally, our efforts were successful. The kidnappers demanded $3 million, but we did not pay any money.”

NSI Additional Director Badrul Hasan Chowdhury and Deputy Director Badrul Hasan Vidyut were also present at the press briefing.

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