Dr. Imtiaz Sooliman is the director of Gift of the Givers, the South African charity organization that works to secure the release of hostages around the world. One of those hostages was Pierre Korkie, a South African native who was abducted by al-Qaida in Yemen last year and who was being held with the American journalist Luke Somers.
Korkie was set to be free, but when a U.S. rescue operation for Somers went bad, Korkie was also killed. Here & Now's Robin Young spoke with Sooliman about his dealings with the terrorist group and the failed U.S. operation that resulted in the death of the man he worked so hard to save.
Interview Highlights: Imtiaz Sooliman
On the death of Pierre Korkie
“It is extremely tragic… it took 11 months of negotiation by the tribal leaders who went across to negotiate. Some of them lost their lives to drone attacks. There was so much difficulty, so much hardship to get to the point we reached. My last words to the wife at 5:59 on Saturday morning was ‘Yolande, the waiting is almost over’ and two hours later after all that effort she gets a call that says Pierre Korkie was shot and dead.”
Are you angry about the death of Pierre Korkie?
“I have no anger. In a war situation, things go more wrong than they go right. You can help as much you want but things always go wrong. Although I must say South Africans are very angry, but from my own understanding, there was no other option. Because the American government doesn’t negotiate and that can kind of be a problem.”
On the larger issues behind the kidnappings
“We seriously need to look at how we operate in the world because all what is happening is a symptom of a bigger problem. We are only trying to solve the symptoms by putting a band-aid on top because this kind of issue is stimulated by anger. We are not winning. As many guns and machines and tanks and missiles we are sending, we are no better than from where started off 15 years ago. And all we achieved is more anger, more hatred, more extremism and more violence. I think it’s time that we seriously look at ourselves, put down the guns and tried to reach out towards each other. That’s something that we seriously need to do.”
- Imtiaz Sooliman, MD, director and founder of Gift of the Givers.
This segment aired on December 9, 2014.
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