Gift of the Givers founder Dr Imtiaz Sooliman has cast doubts on allegations by a self-proclaimed terrorism expert that South Africans are flocking to Syria to join Isis.
by Elphas Nkosi
Jasmine Opperman director at the Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium says seven unidentified South African women have travelled to Syria to become jihadi brides.
Opperman says some of the women followed their husbands who went to Syria to join Isis, while others went voluntarily after being recruited by Isis.
But there also those who went to carry out humanitarian work and got caught up in the ideological battle, she says.
Founder and Chairman of The Gift of the Givers, Dr Imtiaz Sooliman, told Markaz Sahaba Online Radio he understood most South Africans had gone to Syria for different reasons.
“We have been to Syria several times; we went there to set up a hospital in the north of Syria called Darkush, which the whole world has seen and the whole world have visited. And there are 230 staff members from Syria and it is run by Syrian Doctors,” he said.
He added that. “We did hear of other South Africans who went across to different parts of Syria. What we were told is that they went there for a better life – life according to Islamic teachings – and the husbands took their wives and children.
“It is outrageous to think a two-year-old child or a four-year-old child is there to join a terrorist group.”
Opperman claims a South African doctor was killed in an airstrike in Syria.
Doctor FerozGanchi was working in a refugee camp in the besieged country. Gift of the Givers’ Imtiaz Sooliman said there are about 27 South Africans in different parts of Syria.
Sooliman said he have informed the Department of International Relations and Co-operation that some South Africans went to Turkey. Some found themselves stranded in Syria after getting lost on the porous border.
Having not intended to visit Syria, they find themselves stuck without documents.
He said this has happened several times over the years.
“Recently with the death of FerozGanchi and with the big attacks on ISIS, a lot of women and children have been moving to refugee camps … and now it seem there is a lot of desire from a lot of people who have been there to come home.
“That is the information I get from family members and all I know is that many people there are only women and children.”
The Gift of the Givers Founder said there are currently 30-31 South Africans trapped inside Syria and parts of Iraq.
Sooliman said a family disappeared on December 25 from inside Syria – a lady with six young children and a teenager. It is believed they were abducted by ISIS operatives to Damascus.
“From the information that we received, we were told that they were taken away by ISIS people to Damascus and they said from their own understanding they think they were taken to prison in Damascus, a prison called Palestine 235 or Palestine 215 they are not exactly sure of the number”.