Humanitarian organisation Gift of the Givers has made contact with the group that took South African Stephen McGown and Swede Johan Gustafsson hostage four years ago.
The organisation’s founder Imtiaz Sooliman said it would soon take possession of a video from the captors, who appeared ready to negotiate with them.
The two were abducted in Mali by al-Qaeda on November 25 2011.
Wednesday will mark exactly four years since the pair was taken hostage.
Sooliman said both families had waited for three years and eight months without any information on McGown and Gustafsson.
“With our involvement, we made contact with the captors in less than four months.
“Our analysis is the following: ‘someone’ agreed to take up our ‘case’, the captors have accepted Gift of the Givers as negotiators on behalf of both hostages, a special video has been prepared for us and they are ready for ‘dialogue’,” Sooliman said.
“We now need to get possession of the video and view the contents, then wait for ‘demands’ or instructions on the way forward or any other relevant messages. Depending on the content of the video and us successfully acquiring it, we may consider releasing it publicly.”
He said a negotiator from Mali made contact with someone who eventually led them to a “connection”, who began communicating with them.
“On Monday November 23 we got a call at 12 noon to say that ‘the video is good and is waiting for us’,” Sooliman said.
“We are making arrangements to fetch the video and waiting for instructions on how and where to obtain it, but we were told that we may have it by Friday November 27.
“We asked isn’t it possible to get it tomorrow, November 25, and asked the person if anyone knew that November 25 is the fourth anniversary of the abduction. The person said he was not aware of that.”
In June a video emerged of the pair in apparent good health.
The two men sported beards and were wearing traditional robes sitting under a tree.
In the video, McGown thanks the South African government and his family for the efforts made to rescue him. He also reiterates his plea for assistance in his release.
Gift of the Givers successfully negotiated the release of South African Yolande Korkie from al-Qaeda in Yemen, in January 2014, in a ransom-free deal.
The release of her husband Pierre Korkie was also secured for December 6 2014, but he and American Luke Somers died that morning in a failed rescue attempt by the American military. News24