At least two gunmen abducted Waheed Mohammed Naji Haider, who worked under the name Waheed al-Sufi, at about 7 p.m. on April 6, 2015, in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa, his cousin Fahmy al-Ezzi told CPJ in May 2015. Haider was the editor-in-chief of Al-Arabiya, an independent Yemeni newspaper and website, his cousin said.
Haider was abducted while at a post office with al-Ezzi, where he was paying the phone bill for Al-Arabiya, al-Ezzi told CPJ. Al-Ezzi said that two gunmen in civilian clothes asked Haider if he worked for the pan-Arab Saudi TV channel of the same name and that the journalist replied that he worked for the Yemeni outlet Al-Arabiya, which is not related to the Saudi channel. Al-Ezzi told CPJ the men forced Haider at gunpoint into a white Land Cruiser with no license plates and drove away.
No group has publicly claimed to be holding Haider, and his family has not received demands for ransom or information about his health or whereabouts, according to news reports. Al-Ezzi told the Yemeni news website Al-Etihadiya News in April 2015 that he believes the Houthi movement is responsible for the abduction of the journalist because that group claims to hold authority over the region where Haider was abducted.
Houthi rebels took control of Sanaa and other Yemeni cities in September 2014, according to news reports. On March 25, 2015, a Saudi Arabia-led coalition of 10 countries began launching air strikes on territory controlled by the Houthi militia in an attempt to restore power to the internationally recognized government of Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, according to news reports.
CPJ has documented how outlets critical of the Houthis or affiliated with coalition governments have been raided by Houthi forces and their staff temporarily detained since the air strikes began.
Al-Ezzi told CPJ that his cousin published critical articles on the Houthis as well as several reports discussing military operations. He said that Haider was also documenting bombing sites with his personal camera a few hours before he was kidnapped and he still had the camera with him when he was taken.
Since 2015, no updates have emerged on Haider’s kidnapping, and his family does not know where he is, the Yemeni human rights organization Mwatana told CPJ. The organization added that the Houthis denied any responsibility for his abduction or disappearance. According to an article in the Yemeni news outlet Al-Masdar Online, the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate was also unable to get any information on his disappearance from the Houthis.
In early June 2019, al-Ezzi told CPJ that no new information has emerged regarding Haider’s abduction since he went missing in April 2015, and that the family’s efforts to locate him have yielded no results.
According to al-Ezzi, Haider’s family asked the International Federation of Journalists and the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate to intercede on their behalf with the Houthis and inquire about Haider’s whereabouts, as well as the fates of other abducted Yemeni journalists, but the Houthis denied any responsibility for Haider’s abduction and any knowledge of his situation.