South African hostage assumed al Qaeda release was “a joke”

Source: BBC [UK state media]

“A man held hostage by al-Qaeda for nearly six years has said he thought it was a ‘joke’ when he was freed. Stephen McGown, 42, who has South African and UK nationality, was kidnapped from a hotel in Timbuktu, in Mali, along with two others in 2011. He was released on 29 July following ‘efforts’ from South Africa’s government and other authorities. Mr McGown told a press conference he had tried to keep up routines while in captivity to stay positive. Speaking for the first time since his release, Mr McGown said he had been in a car with one of his captors when he was told he could leave. He said he had assumed the man was ‘joking’ and was still not convinced he was free after leaving the vehicle and getting into a second car that was waiting for him. It was only later in the journey that it sunk in that he was free.” (08/10/17)