South Africa 26.2.2014 08:00 am

Dead end in reconnecting with Korkie kidnappers

FILE PICTURE: Dr Imtiaz Sooliman. Picture: Neil McCartney.

FILE PICTURE: Dr Imtiaz Sooliman. Picture: Neil McCartney.

The Gift of the Givers Foundation has reached a dead end reconnecting with Pierre Korkie’s al-Qaeda-linked kidnappers.

NGO founder Dr Imtiaz Sooliman said the foundation had no concrete information on Korkie’s health, his whereabouts or proof he was still alive after losing contact with the kidnappers about a month ago.

“We tried to reach al-Qaeda through the international media circulating an interview with Anas al-Hamati, our office manager in Yemen, who has been in negotiations with them since January 6 and through whom Yolande Korkie was released unconditionally,” Sooliman said yesterday.

“Anas was forced to leave Yemen on January 28 for his own security. We then attempted to reach them through a video message recorded by Yolande Korkie as a final appeal from her to release Pierre unconditionally.

“Unfortunately, all our efforts to ‘reconnect’ with al-Qaeda came to naught.”

Yolande Korkie had recorded a two-minute video at the end of January in which she pleaded with the kidnappers to release her husband.

This after International Relations and Co-operation Deputy Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim’s attempt at diplomatic talks with the Yemen government and other organisations involved in the hostage case were unsuccessful.

The foundation would continue with efforts to reconnect with the kidnappers and had approached tribal sheiks in areas with a known al-Qaeda presence.

Sooliman said this had been difficult due to continuous fighting between al-Qaeda and Yemeni troops, along with constant attacks by drones, which were said to have driven leaders into “deep hiding”.

“The real leaders of al-Qaeda are not known by most of the foot soldiers, so to trace someone who knows the leaders is a virtual impossibility,” he said.

Sooliman added that a team from Anas’s tribe had been dispatched on Monday night to meet tribal sheiks in Abyan, Yemen.

“The journey to Abyan is extremely long and the team is still on the way. We await the outcome of that endeavour while Pierre, if he is alive, may deteriorate¬†further.”

 

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