Press statement by Gift of the Givers’ (GoG) Dr Imtiaz Sooliman:
Following the “capture” of Shiraaz Mahommed on Tuesday night in Darkoush one of our medical team members, Dr Ahmad Ghandour, was summoned to the Investigation Department of Al-Nusra (now Fath Al Sham), an ex Al Qaeda affiliate to answer questions on Shiraaz Mahommed. He met two armed indivdiuals in military uniform, their faces veiled, then was taken blindfolded to some area. He had to wait in isolation for one hour and was then questioned. They wanted to know what “misunderstanding ” was being referred to by those who captured Shiraaz. They wanted to know if Shiraaz had some disagreement with Ahmad. Ahmad replied that on the contrary Shiraaz was invited to have meals and sleep at Ahmad’s home and that Ahmad had taken Shiraaz to some of the areas to take his pictures. Ahmad was going to take Shiraaz to Aleppo also, as per Shiraaz’s request, but we stopped it out of safety concerns. Ahmad then conveyed Gift of the Givers message that had to be passed on to everyone that we are extremely annoyed with this incident.
Gift of the Givers has supported the Syrian people with massive humanitarian life saving projects for the last four years. This was predominant South African support and it was an insult to us that a South African was captured. This South African had come to record the hardship of the Syrian people to garner more international support. The Al-Nusra people said they have an interest in the case and will assist in the search for Shiraaz. Ahmad was then safely transported to his sister’s house.
In a show of growing support the businesses in Darkoush closed their shops for a short while yesterday expressing their support for Shiraaz and their disgust at what had transpired. Today the medical staff did the same at Gift of the Givers Al-Rahma Hospital.
Gift of the Givers has a staff compliment of 200 in Syria and has delivered R150 million of aid in a four year period.[VOC 91.3fm]