Doubts over al-Qaeda role in kidnapping

Officials say it’s not clear if there are any ideological motives behind Pierre Korkie’s kidnapping.

Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim making an appeal for the release of Pierre Korkie on Yemeni national TV on 22 January 2014. Picture: GCIS

PRETORIA - South African government officials are now questioning whether Pierre Korkie is in fact being held in Yemen by al-Qaeda terrorists, or simply money-seeking thugs.

Officials working for the Bloemfontein teacher's release say he may have been kidnapped by people without any political or ideological agenda.

Korkie and his wife Yolande were kidnapped nine months ago and she was released earlier this month.

Kidnappers are demanding a ransom of more than R30 million, saying Pierre will otherwise be executed in just over two weeks.

Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Ebrahim Ebrahim says Yemen is fertile ground for kidnappers.

At least eight people, in addition to Korkie, are being held captive in that country.

International experts dealing with this scourge say the abductors aren't behaving like idealistic Islamists.

The specialists say those holding Korkie are clearly bent on making as much money as they can from him.

This brings into the question how effective Ebrahim's call for the abductors to have regard for Islamic law and show mercy for their critically ill hostage will be.