JEDDAH: Saudi authorities are holding a woman in her fifties on charges of having kidnapped three baby boys from a hospital more than 20 years ago.
The arrest comes after Naif Al-Qaradi was reunited with his birth family, who refused to give up hope after he was taken from Qatif hospital hours after his birth.
Al-Qaradi’s paternal uncle, Yehia Al-Kahlani, from Jazan, told reporters that the young man’s identity had been confirmed by a DNA result that matched his mother’s.
Al-Kahlani said that the boy had been kidnapped about six hours after his birth. His mother was visited by a woman dressed as a nurse who said she was going to take him for a check-up.
“We suffered for a long time, 26 years or even more searching for him. His father suffered the most with psychological stress, resulting in a heart condition that led to his passing,” the uncle said.
“Naif’s joy is indescribable at this revelation,” the uncle added. “We pray that he is always happy to have met his real family. He is still recovering from the shock and coming to terms with what has happened to him.”
Al-Kahlani said that the family hopes to press charges because of the involvement of other kidnapped children.
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He said the woman’s husband may also have been involved because the boy was registered under his name in official papers.
Eastern Province police released a statement on Thursday saying that the suspect had been linked to the kidnapping case in Qatif after a DNA test on her second son confirmed he was not her child.
The woman’s husband is being held for questioning.
Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health was forced to tighten security following the kidnapping of several newborns in hospitals two decades ago.
Naif Al-Qaradi — the name given to him by the woman who raised him — appeared in a video defending his “adoptive” mother, saying she did her best, and took care of him and fed him well.
He is the second man to be returned to his family. The other kidnap victim, Moussa Al-Khanizi, was reunited with his father, Ali Al-Khanizi, who dropped all charges after his son’s pleas.
In response to the case, many people took to social media to highlight other cases of missing children around the same period. Several hashtags were raised, including: #IbtihalWillReturn for Ibtihal Al-Mutairi, who vanished in 2002, and another child, Nassim Habtour, who disappeared in 1996.
Saudi entrepreneur and influencer Naif Madkhali (@Naifco) said via a tweet: “The son’s humanitarian viewpoint of the mother who has raised them and their love for her could help us understand the enormity of the tragedy and shock in the case. I believe they need specialized psychological care in the coming period.”