Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) president Maulana Igsaan Hendricks has made an international appeal for the release of South African citizen, Stephen McGown who remains in captivity. McGowan was one of seven hostages captured by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in Mali. McGowan and Swede Johan Gustafson are still being held. McGowan was kidnapped in 2011 from a hotel in Timbuktu, Mali where he was travelling as a tourist.
Humanitarian agency Gift of the Givers (GOTG) is currently negotiating his release. In the Youtube video delivered in English and Arabic, Maulana Igsaan Hendricks urges the captors to be compassionate and to be merciful to McGown.
“In the name of this wonderful green continent, in the name of the civilization of this continent, in the name of the peace of Islam, we call upon on his captors for his immediate release so he can return to his beloved country in South Africa,” Hendricks appealed.
GOTG has deployed a negotiator from the North of Mali who speaks the local language as well as French.
“One of the most difficult aspects of hostage negotiations is not knowing with certainty who the captors are, where they are, what they want or how they can be contacted. Gift of the Givers is sending out a message internationally requesting the captors of Stephen McGown to connect with us so that we can commence the process of negotiations to free Stephen. Three years and seven months is an eternity to be in captivity,” said GOTG founder Dr Imtiaz Sooliman.
Over the past week, GOTG’s contacts have commenced some significant face-face meetings with spiritual and tribal leaders in West Africa.
“It is well understood that in situations like these there are no guarantees of success. It has been a very tough and trying time for the family having waited 3 years and 7 months already since that fateful day of capture on 25 November 2011 in Mali,” said Dr Sooliman.
He said constructive effort has to be made to connect with the captors in order to commence meaningful dialogue. Till now the McGown family does not know who the real captors are, what are the demands, where Stephen is held and who to communicate with.
“We face that same dilemma on behalf of the McGown family but are putting systems into place to initiate that opening contact with the captors.”
To view the video, click here: