Arwa Baghdadi, the Saudi woman who fled into the arms of al-Qaeda in Yemen

Arwa Baghdadi was accused of joining al-Qaeda following the death of her brother Mohammad in 2010. (Representational picture)

Last year, a Saudi woman by the name of Arwa Baghdadi captured the attention of international media after she escaped to Yemen to join al-Qaeda.

At the time Baghdadi was out on bail, awaiting trial on terrorism charges. Her mother woke up in the family home on April 6, 2013 to find that Baghdadi and her two children were not in the house.

Since then, a Twitter account in Arwa’s name has sent out volatile messages that can be seen as attempts to disturb the peace in the area. She stopped tweeting in mid-January, but not before expressing joy at joining the “Mujahedeen” in Yemen.

Who is Arwa?

Arwa Baghdadi was accused of joining al-Qaeda following the death of her brother Mohammad in 2010 and, according to her uncle Hisham Baghdadi, Arwa had married suspected al-Qaeda member Yassin al-Barakati while she was detained in prison.

She stood accused of joining al-Qaeda and of being involved with the “misguided group.” Arwa was bailed out of jail in 2012 and fled the next year.

Her family’s stance

Arwa’s father was contacted by Al Arabiya News Channel this week, but refused to give a statement.

The family had, however, made a public plea to their daughter in 2013 to return to the kingdom.

The Saudi Gazette quoted a spokesman for the family as saying: “Not one of us will accept what you have done.”

“The authorities here are tolerant and forgiving. So please come back.”

At the time, her grandfather said: “What Arwa and Anas (her brother, who also allegedly fled to Yemen) did, by hiding or fleeing to Yemen is something we don’t accept as a family.”

“The news of her escape hit us like thunder,” he added.

Her mother, Huda Al-Ahdal, a retired educational supervisor, said her daughter and son Anas told her about their escape to Yemen through a telephone call.

Arwa is believed to be the third Saudi woman to escape to Yemen to join al-Qaeda there.

She was preceded in 2006 by Wafa Mohammad al-Yahya who escaped with her children to Yemen before moving on to Iraq via Syria, and Wafa al-Shihri who joined her husband Saeed al-Shihri with her two children from another husband.

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Last Update: 10:52 KSA 13:52 - GMT 10:52
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