“I never thought I would return home,” Akam Sofyol Anam told reporters in Dhaka, following his return a day earlier on Wednesday, calling the last 18 months “horrifying.”
“I thought the terrorists might kill me anytime,” said Anam, a former army lieutenant colonel. “My days were miserable. There was a fear of death every day. It cannot be expressed in words — it is seen in films only.”
In February 2022, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) kidnapped Anam and four others as they returned to Yemen’s southern port city of Aden after a field mission while working for U.N. Department of Safety and Security.
Anam said he was not physically tortured but had often been kept blindfolded.
“I couldn’t see the sky for months,” he said, adding that he was moved repeatedly from place to place.
He said he had “no idea how much money they wanted or what was their demand,” adding that he thought he had been “targeted, as I was an U.N. official.”
Anam “expressed his gratitude to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for her role in rescuing him,” the premier’s office said, releasing a photograph of the two meeting.
Yemen’s conflict began in 2014 when Iran-backed Houthi rebels seized the capital, Sanaa, prompting a Saudi-led coalition to intervene the following year to prop up the internationally recognized government.
AQAP and militants loyal to the Islamic State group have thrived in the chaos.
Formed in a merger of al-Qaida’s Yemen and Saudi branches, AQAP has carried out attacks on both rebel and government targets in Yemen, as well as foreigners.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed directly or indirectly in Yemen’s war.
But hostilities have sharply declined since a six-month, U.N.-brokered truce came into effect in April 2022, even after it lapsed in October.