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S.African Al-Qaeda hostage tells of 6-year ordeal

11 August 2017

"Once converted, the guy wanted to wash your clothes by the river beds, even when you were a prisoner they would give you good meat... things changed dramatically".

While in captivity, he converted from Catholicism to Islam, but insists he was not under duress to do so. And he said "If you don't believe me you can walk, you can go" and it actually came through, like, "Well maybe he's not just pulling my leg and joking with me".

Prophet Lot - as is his new Islamic name - says he was not forced to convert from Christianity but simply chose to. "I entered (Islam) of my own accord".

He added that his captors thought that US President Donald Trump would draw more Muslims to fight against the West. They had been held hostage for six long years.

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Johan Gustafsson after his release with his family.

Speaking 10 days after his release, Stephen McGown, a South African with British citizenship, said he did not believe his captors knew his nationality and thinks it would have been "first prize" had they known he was from the UK.

Both captives after their release admitted that they were treated better after their conversion to Islam: three meals a day, medicine was given to them and an exercise routine, at times they were allowed to listen to the radio for a short time but there were no books in English.

McGown said, "I did my best in a bad situation" and described how he learned some Arabic to communicate. McGown appeared in front of the public after his discharge from the hospital.

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Joking with reporters he added: "I'll probably keep the beard". I see all of my friends are growing them. "They ve become funky", McGown said.

A South African who was abducted with Mr Gustafsson in Timbuktu and freed in late July, Stephen McGown, is expected to make his first public appearance later. A Dutch hostage was freed in 2015 in a raid by French special forces and a Swede was released in June this year.

Mr McGown had been kidnapped together with two other Westerners, including Swedish national Johan Gustafsson, who was released a few weeks earlier in June.

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S.African Al-Qaeda hostage tells of 6-year ordeal