What appears to be a new video has surfaced showing South African photojournalist Shiraaz Mohamed who continues to appear as a hostage of an armed rebel group in Syria. In a statement, Gift of the Givers Foundation, which has been leading the negotiations for his release, said the “new” video seems to be a modified version of the one that was initially sent to them.
“We checked with the individual who sent us the first video. He was very surprised to hear of this and was not aware of it. It seems to be a modified version of the one that was initially sent to us so we are not paying too much attention to it,” said Gift of the Giver’s founder Dr Imitiaz Sooliman.
In the newly released video, Mohamed can be heard pleading for assistance.
“My name is Shiraz Mohamed, [I am] a South African photographer. To my family, to my president, to my government, Dr Imtiaz Sooliman: you sent me here but now you have forgotten about me. I can’t understand – you help the whole world but not me. To my friends, those who know me, those that can help: please, I need your help. My situation is getting from bad to worse. I have survived two attacks from the Russian Air Force. I don’t know what will happen a third time. I need your help. Please get me out of here,” says Mohamed in the video.
Mohamed was abducted from Darkoush in January 2017 under the accusation of being a foreign spy. In April this year, a video of Mohamed pleading for help and safety from Russian Air Force bombing efforts was released, with Mohamed saying that he worries about the proximity of the strikes and that he fears for his life.
A demand of $1.5 million has been issued by Mohamed’s captors for his release.
Since the ransom request, the humanitarian NGO have communicated with the intermediary several times this month. At this stage, the intermediary is trying to convince the captors to release Shiraaz unconditionally.
“He received the letters that we sent to him from the religious leaders, engaged the captors and said there were two reactions: one group still wants the ransom and the second group said release him unconditionally. There is no finality which way it is going as yet,” Sooliman explained.
According to Sooliman, the intermediary, out of his own initiative, approached two Middle Eastern Governments to assist with the payment of the ransom, but was turned down. The intermediary believes the most pressing concern is the Russian airstrikes which puts Shiraaz’s life in jeopardy.
“The intermediary said that communicating with the captors is far more complex now with all the bombing. However, he has sent a message today to ask for an explanation on who circulated the new video and what its purpose was.”
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