DALLAS – The son of an American oil worker recently freed after being kidnapped 18 months ago in Yemen said Wednesday that his father is getting re-acquainted with his Yemeni wife and their children, and that he hopes to talk with him soon.
“I now know that he is safe and that is the only thing that is really important for me,” Army Sgt. Maj. Cale Burch, Danny Burch’s three children from a previous marriage, told The Associated Press.
President Donald Trump announced Monday that Danny Burch had freed, and thanked the United Arab Emirates for its role in the reunification of Burch with his family. It is still unclear who kidnapped him in September 2017 in Yemen, a Middle East country that was torn apart by a civil war.
Cale Burch, which is assigned to the us Army Special Operations Command headquarters in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, said he received a call Sunday from the FBI to let him know that a release had mediated for his father.
He said that the FBI had been in contact with him, while his father was held. The younger Burch said he did not know the exact day that his father was released, but he said that his father is now going through a rehabilitation period.
A coalition led by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates one of the key members, is fighting the Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen since 2015. A year earlier, Houthis pushed the internationally recognized government of the capital Sanaa.
Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, the head of the Houthis’ Revolutionary Committee, said Tuesday that Danny Burch was held by a “terrorist group” in the areas under the control of the Saudi-led coalition.
Danny Burch is married to a Yemeni national, and the couple has three children. He was 63 when he was kidnapped in September 2017. At the time, his wife told The New York Times that her husband had left their home in Sanaa to put their sons to a sports club, but never returned. She said the police later told her that he would be stopped by five armed men in civilian clothes who took him away.
Danny Burch, who grew up in Louisiana and East Texas, has the largest part of his career as a mechanic in the oil and gas industry. Cale Burch said his father began working in Yemen about 25 years ago, for about a month at a time.
“About 15 years ago he made the choice to remain alone as an expat,” said Cale Burch, adding that he would kept in contact with his father through social media, before he was kidnapped.
Cale Burch said that he and his brothers and sisters worry about their father, as the unrest in the province in the past few years. He said that many immigrants left, but that his father had built a life for themselves and there was a part of a group of expatriates who remained.
“I think he was careful, but I don’t know that he was nervous about something, he was going about his routine when he was captured,” he said.
He describes his father as a “hardworking man” and a loving father who “doted on us kids when we were growing up.”
“My family, we are a family of faith, and we kept him in our prayers. And our prayers were answered,” Cale Burch said.
Associated Press writer Ahmed al-Haj in Sanaa, Yemen, contributed to this report.