Ricochet News

SA man captured by Al-Qaeda pleads for government to secure his release

Jun 23, 2015
SA man captured by Al-Qaeda pleads for government to secure his release

In a rare video, a South African man, who has spent three years in captivity at an al-Qaeda camp in Mali, has appealed to the SA government to secure his release.

Stephen Malcolm McGowan and a Swedish man were taken captive by al-Qaeda militants in Timbuktu in November 2011 -weeks before secular and Islamist rebels took over Mali's north.
A German man, who was with them was shot dead during the capture while a Dutch hostage was discovered by chance and freed during a raid by French commandos in April 2015.
In the video message posted on YouTube, McGowan and the Swede plead for assistance from their respective governments.
The nearly 19-minute video, entitled "A trip to interview two prisoners," could not be independently verified - although it bore the stamp of al-Andalus, which claims to be the media arm of al Qaeda in north Africa (AQMI).
It was posted on Youtube and on a Mauritanian website called Sahara Medias, which has a history of releasing statements by Islamist groups.
Neither hostage showed any obvious signs of ill health.
The video features sound effects and super-imposed images, suggesting the kidnappers may be aping the sophisticated production techniques used by the Islamic State.

The date of the video is not clear, though the video could be dated from McGowan's mother's birthday and his wedding anniversary which he acknowledges in his message.

The location of the video is not given, described only by the narrator as "new territory under the control of mujahideen". McGowan hints they are being held in Mali.
---additional reporting eNCA and Reuters.