By Libya Herald reporters.
Tripoli, 10 July 2017:
Saudi Arabia has unofficially agreed to an Egyptian request to extradite four Libyans it has arrested on suspicion of being involved in the kidnap of Egyptian envoys three years ago, according to a member of the House of Representatives. So far, however, no formal request has been made.
Five Egyptian diplomats were seized in Tripoli in January 2014. The kidnappers demanded the release of Shaaban Hadia Al-Zawi, also known as Abu Obeida, head of the Islamist Libyan Revolutionaries Operation Room (LROR). Zawi had been arrested by the Egyptian police in Alexandria. The kidnappers gave the Egyptians 24 hours to release him or the envoys would be killed. The Egyptians let Zawi go and in their turn the Egyptian diplomats were freed.
The four detained Libyans, Mahmoud Ben-Rajab, Mohammed Hussein Al-Khadrawi, Hussein Zahait and Abdul-Ghani Mohamed Ammar Abdullah were all arrested at Jeddah airport as they were flying home after performing Umrah.
After Ben-Rajab and Khadrawi were both held at the airport, Zahait sought protection in Jeddah’s Libyan consulate but was himself arrested at the airport when he left the consulate after nine days.
The Egyptians have not spelt out the alleged involvement of the men in the diplomatic abductions. However, a reliable source has told the Libya Herald that one of them had been the negotiator with the Egyptians.
When news of the Saudi arrests first broke Presidency Council (PC) head Faiez Serraj asked the foreign ministry in Riyadh for an explanation. Two of the men come from Zawia. On Saturday Serraj hosted a delegation from the town which included members of the men’s families. He assured them that that the PC’s foreign minister Mohamed Siala would act to ensure the men’s legal rights and safety in Saudi.