Pakistan

Ali Haider Gillani details raid that freed him

MULTAN: Ali Haider Gillani, the freed son of a former Pakistani prime minister Yousuf Raza Gillani, has revealed details of the raid by United States (US) and Afghan forces last week which rescued him three years after he was captured by Al-Qaeda operatives.

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Ali Haider Gillani was found during a counter-terror operation in eastern Afghanistan three years after he was kidnapped on the outskirts of the Pakistani city of Multan.

Talking to the media in his hometown of Multan, Gillani said his captors told him they were expecting a US raid on May 9 and moved him to another location, but they were being monitored.

“There was an awesome combat between Al-Qaeda and US security forces in the night of May 9, 2016,” he said, as he described seeing the eyes of the soldiers and green lights from their helicopters in the darkness.

“I could only see the red eyes of US soldiers and the Al-Qaeda operatives left me alone in a deserted mountain area,” he said.

“I fell down myself on the ground when US soldiers captured me” as drones hovered overhead, he added.

“The cobra helicopters appeared from another direction and shone green lights,” he said.

The US forces then transmitted his picture to Bagram Airfield.

“At last, I was identified as the son of Pakistan’s former prime minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gillani,” he told reporters at his residence, hailing the US soldier who found him as his “saviour”.

NATO has said he was rescued by US Special Operations Forces and Afghan commandos.

Talking about his abduction, Gillani said he was kidnapped by Al-Qaeda to be exchanged for the release of high profile Al-Qaeda operatives.

He spent most of his captivity in the Pakistani tribal district of North Waziristan, where the military has been battling Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked militants, before being taken across the border to the Afghan province of Paktika.

“I spent the last 40 days of my captivity in Afghanistan and I had served two-and-a-half years in North Waziristan,” he said.

Gillani said he was kept in caves and sometimes in vehicles to keep him safe from drone attacks.

Despite the ordeal, he said the cool weather in the mountains was a pleasant contrast to Multan, Pakistan’s hottest city.

Gillani, who is a triplet, said he was working on writing a book about his captivity.

He was kidnapped on May 9, 2013, just two days before a bitterly contested national election in which he was campaigning.

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