Syrian-American Detainee Declared Dead After Two Years in Assad Regime’s Custody

Credit: (Syrian Observer)

The family of Jamal Shaheen al-Matni, a Syrian-American dual national who had been missing for nearly two years, announced his death today. According to the Suwayda 24 network, al-Matni, detained by the Assad regime’s security forces, died while in custody. The announcement came after the family received confirmed information about his death, despite authorities not releasing his body.

Jamal Shaheen al-Matni, in his seventies, was kidnapped in July 2021 by an armed militia affiliated with the Military Intelligence shortly after arriving in Syria for vacation. He was later transferred to an Intelligence branch in Damascus. Despite the family’s extensive efforts to locate him and uncover the charges against him, they lost track of al-Matni when he was moved to the infamous Saydnaya prison.

The family plans to hold absentee funeral prayers today, Thursday, May 30, given that the location of his body remains unknown. This follows the recent death of another American detained in Syria. Less than two weeks ago, American physician Majd Kamalmaz was confirmed dead in the regime’s prisons, seven years after his disappearance in Damascus. According to Kamalmaz’s daughter, Mariam, who met with senior American officials, the information about Almaz’s death was highly reliable.

The US government has been urged to take action in response to these deaths. On May 24, Rep. Michael McCaul, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, reaffirmed the commitment to holding the Assad regime accountable for Kamalmaz’s death. He described Kamalmaz as a humanitarian and psychologist who was wrongfully detained in 2017. McCaul emphasized that Congress would persist in efforts to ensure accountability for his captors.

Earlier, on May 18, American officials demanded that President Joe Biden publicly condemn Kamalmaz’s death and initiate an investigation. Rep. Joe Wilson, Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia, called for a criminal investigation into Almaz’s kidnapping and murder. He stressed the need for a strong response from the US government to prevent further loss of American lives at the hands of the Assad regime. The deaths of al-Matni and Kamalmaz demonstrate the ongoing plight of detainees in Syria and the need for international efforts to address human rights abuses by the Assad regime.


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