A Saudi soldier who died in an Iraqi prison finally came home to his rest

A Saudi soldier who died in an Iraqi prison finally came home to his rest

Captain Abdullah Al-Qarni was captured in Kuwait during the first Gulf War. His death was not discovered until after the fall of Saddam

Three decades later, Captain Abdullah Al-Qarni, a Saudi soldier captured by Iraqi forces during Operation Desert Storm, returns

He died in an Iraqi prison, finally going home this week.

His remains arrived at King Abdulaziz Airport on October 21 and were taken to Mecca for funeral prayers and burial in the city's Martyrs Cemetery.

The chain of events leading up to his death began on August 2, 1990, when Iraqi forces invaded Kuwait and captured the capital within hours. The surprise attack marked the beginning of the seven-month occupation of the country.

In response, it mobilized troops, tanks, artillery, ships and aircraft from more than 40 allied nations, led by the United States,

They gathered in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia and the capital, Riyadh, for Operation Desert Storm, with the aim of leading invaders out of Kuwait.

By January 17, 1991, an allied force of more than 600,000 ground, sea and air soldiers had assembled and an air and sea bombardment began.

This was followed a week later by a ground attack. Al-Qarni was among the forces.

Most of the casualties during the 42-day war were among the Iraqi forces, and some estimates put as many as 35,000 killed. Dozens of Allied forces were also killed. Among the Saudi forces, 18 were killed and 32 wounded. Eleven Saudi prisoners of war were later returned unharmed to the kingdom.

The exact circumstances that led to Al-Qarni's arrest are still unknown, but it was eventually confirmed that he was in a prison in Iraq

And he apparently died there at some point during the next decade, although details are unclear. Years of efforts by Saudi authorities to return his remains to his family have finally been rewarded this week.

The brother of the martyr soldier, retired Saudi warrior Salim Al-Qarni, and his cousin, Saleh Salman Al-Qarni, told Arab News that he died a noble death, serving his nation to the end.

They said that before the war, he said goodbye to his three daughters and his wife, and left their hometown of Shaaf in Qarn in the Asir region, and went to Riyadh to receive some military training.

"A few months before the 1990 Gulf War, my brother was chosen from among a group for training in Muzahimiyah (west of Riyadh)," Salim said.

"More than a month later, the brutal attack on Kuwait took place and they were ordered to go directly there on military missions."

He said his brother did not hesitate to join the fight but it is believed that after about five days of work he was captured and taken to Iraq.

The family was informed and the Saudi government continued to monitor the detainees' conditions. Saleem said he believed his brother was still detained in Iraq when US-led forces invaded the country in 2002.

But after the death of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and the fall of his regime, no trace was found in any of the prisons of Al-Qarni or a group of his friends.

Later, his remains were identified and the family faced a new battle to get them back. But they never gave up hope, and continued their campaign with the help of the Saudi government.

"The government also carried out a comprehensive follow-up of all necessary procedures, until his remains were identified and returned to the homeland," Salim said.

My brother died without fear while he was defending our country. May God grant him the honor of martyrdom while defending the region with his colleagues who knew sacrifices and were faithful and fearless and defended their homeland to the end.”

In 2004 the family obtained a death certificate. The following year, Selim married his brother's widow to take care of her and his three nieces,

The youngest of them only saw Abdullah for a day before shipping abroad. Together they had two more daughters and remained together as a family until she passed away in 2019.

Then Selim explained that his parents had endured a lot of suffering as a result of what happened to his brother. Because his whereabouts were unknown until his death was confirmed,
They clung to the hope that they could be reunited. His father passed away in 2000 and his mother in 2015.

Saleh said that his cousin's martyrdom while defending his homeland was a source of pride, pride and nobility. He added that he was very religious and loyal to his homeland and his king, and he performed his duty without hesitation for the sake of his homeland and region.

Saleh said: "We bid him farewell, body and soul, and welcome his remains." “This situation creates mixed feelings of pain, loss and pride. We are relieved that he did his duty. We lost his pure soul and his beautiful soul in the darkness of Iraqi prisons.”