Videos confirm al-Qaeda hostages are alive

By Drum Digital
02 December 2015

Disaster relied charity organisation Gift of the Givers has confirmed that two hostages held by militant Islamic fundamentalist group al-Qaeda’s rebel forces in Mali are alive.

By Ayanda Sithole

The hostages, Stephen McGown from South Africa and Johan Gustafsson from Sweden, have been held hostage by the group for the past four years.

Gift of the Givers’ Malian negotiator, Mohamed Yehia Dicko, arrived in Bamako, Mali, on Wednesday 25 November, which marked the fourth anniversary of McGown and Gustafsson’s capture.

Yehia Dicko received three to four phone calls a day through an al-Qaeda intermediary apologising and confirming that a video which serves as proof that the hostages are still alive would be sent soon.

The aid organisation says after a week of intense waiting, they finally received the footage of the two hostages in two separate videos at 1 pm on Tuesday 1 December.

Gift of the Givers also says they have no reason to believe that the contents of the video are inaccurate, saying the dates on the video are “absolutely credible and realistic”.

In the video, McGown confirms that the date of recording is Tuesday 20 October. He expresses optimism that he’ll be released and returned home soon.

“This is a short message to the South African Government to say thank you for your continued efforts to organise my release . . . I understand that there is a South African organisation negotiating my release and I am thankful that I could be coming home soon,” he says.

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