BEIRUT, Lebanon -- A Saudi diplomat kidnapped in Beirut in January 1984 was flown back to his homeland Monday after Syria intervened to get him freed, the official Saudi Press Agency said.
The agency gave no details of the release of Saudi consul in Beirut Hussein Abdullah Farrash, but on his arrival in the Saudi port of Jeddah he thanked Syrian President Hafez Assad for Syrian efforts to secure his release.
Farrash was the only non-Westerner among nine foreigners missing in Beirut. Like four Americans and two Frenchmen, the Moslem fundamentalist group Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for his abduction.
The agency also quoted Farrash as thanking Saudi ruler King Fahd for cooperating with Syrian authorities.
Farrash arrived in Jeddah aboard a Syrian aircraft a week after an anonymous note said he would be freed.
No date or location for Farrash's release was given, but it apparently coincided with a visit by Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al Faisal to Tehran for talks on improving relations with Iran.
Faisal returned to Saudi Arabia Monday. The news agency said King Fahd also sent a letter of appreciation to Assad Monday.
Beirut newspapers received unsigned letters last week saying the Saudi diplomat would be freed 'soon' as 'the rulers of Saudi Arabia ... have begun to feel the danger of their future because of their support for the enemies of Islam.'
After his abduction by unidentified gunmen in mostly Moslem west Beirut Jan. 17, 1984, an Islamic Jihad caller said Farrash would be tried, executed 'and his body thrown out.'
In a telephone call to a Western news agency in Beirut Saturday, a man claiming to represent Islamic Jihad said his movement had detonated two bombs in the Saudi capital of Riyadh that killed one person and wounded two.
The Arabic-speaking man said efforts to improve relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia would not 'deter us or make us hesitate' in carrying out more attacks inside Saudi Arabia in an attempt to depose King Fahd.
The pro-Iranian movement produced photographs last week of the four missing Americans and two Frenchmen, saying they faced 'a horrible disaster' unless Kuwait freed 17 men imprisoned for a series of bomb attacks on U.S. and French targets in 1983.