We got feedback last night, 17 March 2014, that Abyan tribal leaders finally met Al Qaeda, face-face, after having to wait for a prolonged period. The meeting was tense and rushed with not much opportunity for dialogue in the 15 minutes granted but sufficient to glean necessary information.
Al Qaeda still want the ransom money; they can't make exceptions for a South African otherwise they will have to make exceptions for the three other hostages of different nationalities they were holding. There was no mention if the ransom is negotiable nor any comment on Pierre's health.
All they said is "if you give us the money you can have Pierre now". The Abyan tribal leaders expressed the view, that in their analysis of the discussion that took place, Al Qaeda had "bought" the Korkie couple from a group of kidnappers for a very handsome sum and it is probably for this reason that they will not waive the ransom issue as they need to recover what they have "lost". There wasn't sufficient time granted to discuss proof of life.
We now, together with the tribal leaders, have to figure out the next plan of action.
Issued by Imtiaz Sooliman