Syrian captors of South African photojournalist Shiraaz Mohamed have demanded a $1.5 million ransom in exchange for his freedom, a local charity revealed on Saturday, 4 May 2019.
Humanitarian organisation Gift of the Givers founder Imtiaz Sooliman said the ransom demand came following the proof of life video that the organisation received from Shiraaz’s captors in Syria on 26 April 2019.
“They called this week to commence negotiations on the way forward. The demand for Shiraaz’s release is $1.5 million. We made it clear that this was not possible” Sooliman said.
“We stated that Shiraaz’s family does not have the means, nor is Shiraaz the employee of a large corporate company that could assist with payment and the South African government will not pay.
“They said they [are] giving us time to consider options” he added.
According to Sooliman, “in a subsequent conversation we said the figure was too high. They said it was negotiable.
“They called again on Thursday evening, they seemed anxious and said they need to conclude this deal urgently.
“The Russians were bombing South Idlib and North Hama very aggressively and they are afraid that Shiraaz could be killed in the bombing.”
Mohamed was captured on 10 April 2017 in Syria on his way back to the Turkish border after accompanying the Gift of the Givers.
The two drivers who were captured with him were released immediately and were told that Mohamed had been held for “questioning”.
He is believed to have been held in captivity since then.