South African photographer Shiraaz Mohamed, who has been held captive in Syria since January 2017. Picture: Screengrab
South African photographer Shiraaz Mohamed, who has been held captive in Syria since January 2017. Picture: Screengrab

VIDEO: New Shiraaz Mohamed video is modified, says Gift of the Givers

By Tribune Reporter Time of article published May 14, 2019

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Durban - The Gift of the Givers said they were not paying attention to a second video of South African photographer Shiraaz Mohamed which was released on YouTube on May 10. 

The video was released on May 10 but has not been widely viewed, amassing just 140 views as of Tuesday afternoon.

Gift of the Givers founder Imtiaaz Sooliman said it appeared the video had been doctored from an earlier video which was released recently. 

“It seems to be a modified version of the one that was initially sent to us so we not paying too much attention to it,” said Sooliman. 
In the video, Mohamed, who has been held captive in Syria for more than two years appeals for assistance. 

“My name is Shiraaz Mohamed, a South African photographer. To my family, my president, my government, Dr Imtiaaz Sooliman, you sent me here but now you have forgotten about me. I can't understand, you help the whole world but not me,” he says in the video. 

Kidnapped Shiraaz Mohamed begs for assistance. Video: Youtube

“Those that can help me, 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 the third time, please get me out of here,” he said in the video.

At the end of April, the captured photographer had pleaded for help in a proof of life video received and shared by Gift of the Givers. 

Mohamed was abducted on January 10, 2017 in the vicinity of Gift of the Givers Ar Rahma Hospital in Darkoush, Syria.

On May 4, the captors demanded $1.5m ransom to secure the photojournalist’s release. 

Sooliman added: “It has been brought to the attention of Gift of the Givers that a second video on Shiraaz has been loaded on YouTube and is doing the rounds on social media. 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,” he said, before adding that it may have been a modified version of the video released on May 4. 

Sooliman said ever since they received the $1.5m ransom request, they had been in contact with the intermediary and were last in contact on Sunday. 

“The intermediary has been very good and understanding and says he 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 (we didn't pursue the discussion to reduce the amount as that creates expectancy) and the second group said release him unconditionally. There is no finality which way it is going as yet, said Sooliman.

He revealed that the intermediary had, approached two Middle Eastern governments to assist with the payment of the ransom.

“The answer was in the negative in both instances. He emphasised that the real concern right now is the intense bombing from the Russians 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,” he said.

Sunday Tribune

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