Al Qaeda releases South African kidnapped in Mali in 2011

Paying Social Media Jobs
Malcolm McGowan, father of South African Stephen McGowan, who was kidnapped by al Qaeda from the Mali tourist town of Timbuktu in 2011 and has been released and is back home, chats to foreign minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane after a media briefing in Pretoria, South Africa August 3, 2017. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko
Social sharing

PRETORIA (Reuters) – A South African tourist who was kidnapped in 2011 by al Qaeda while travelling in Mali has been released and is back home, foreign minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said on Thursday.

Stephen McGowan was one of four foreigners touring Mali on motorbikes who were seized in a restaurant in the town of Timbuktu.

One, a German, was killed in the kidnapping. A Dutch hostage was freed in 2015 in a raid by French special forces and a Swede was released in June this year. The kidnappers had demanded $5 million for his release, but the government rejected it, Swedish Radio said.

“We would like to warmly welcome him back home and wish him good health, good fortune in his life as a free man,” South African foreign minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane told a news conference, adding that no ransom had been paid.

McGowan, who was not present at the news conference, is undergoing medical tests but had no major injuries, Nkoana-Mashabane said.

McGowan’s mother died in May, but other close family members expressed their joy at his return.

“It was a big surprise when Stephen walked through the door,” said McGowan’s father, Malcolm.

“I gave him a big hug and he felt as sound and as strong as before. We simply had to say to Stephen: ‘A lot of water has passed under the bridge but you’re strong, you’ve got to get up and carry on with your life.'”

McGowan’s wife, Catherine, told the news briefing: “The first thing he said to me was: ‘Your hair has grown.’ I said to him ‘Actually, your hair is longer than mine now.'”

READ ALSO  2019: Gov Amosun orders closure of ADP secretariat in Ogun

In a video that emerged a month ago, after the Swede, Johan Gustafsson, was released, a bearded McGowan appeared to have no idea his six-year ordeal would soon be over.

“It’s a long time to be away,” he said. “Until when do you think this will come to an end?”

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb began as a spin-off from an Islamist movement that fought Algeria’s government in the 1990s.

It was pushed across the border into Mali the following decade, where it pledged allegiance to Osama bin Laden’s movement and built a network of fighters across the Sahara responsible for dozens of kidnappings of Westerners and attacks on security forces across West Africa.

Reporting by Mfuneko Toyana in Pretoria and Wendell Roelf in Cape Town; Writing by Ed Cropley and James Macharia; Editing by Robin Pomeroy

About 9News Nigeria 7445 Articles
9News Nigeria is Nigeria's favourite news source.For Authentic, Unbiased News on Politics, Business, Sports, Technology, Entertainment and Lifestyles, Health, Nollywood, Crime and Investigations, Family and Relationships, Inspirations .. and much more.For Latest News from Africa and around the world, 9News Nigeria is your best source. WhatsApp +2348115805632 Email: Facebook: | Twitter/Instagram: @9newsng

Be the first to comment

Leave your comment

Paying Social Media Jobs
Paying Social Media Jobs
Paying Social Media Jobs