US Citizen Missing in Syria Believed Killed in Assad Regime Custody, Family Says

Credit: (AP)

Majd Kamalmaz, an American citizen who disappeared more than seven years ago while traveling in Syria, has died, according to a statement from the Bring Our Families Home Campaign (BoFH). According to Jonathan Franks, BoFH spokesperson, Majd was a kindhearted, loving, and caring person, a son, husband, father, grandfather, brother, and uncle who “did not survive the brutal conditions of the prisons, enduring seven long years without a case, trial or any form of communication with his family.”

Maryam Kamalmaz, the daughter of the deceased, told The Associated Press that during a meeting in Washington this month, eight senior American officials presented her with detailed intelligence about her father’s presumed death. The officials had a 90% level of confidence that her father was dead. When Maryam asked whether other detained Americans had ever been successfully recovered under such credible circumstances, she was told no. “What more do I need? That was a lot of high-level officials that we needed to confirm to us that he’s really gone. There was no way to beat around the bush,” she said.

Officials believe Majd Kamalmaz died years ago, early in his captivity. In 2020, they informed the family that he likely died of heart failure in 2017, but the family held out hope, and US officials continued their pursuit.

A spokesperson for the White House declined to comment to press on Saturday. The FBI’s Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell issued a statement that did not offer any update on Kamalmaz but emphasized its ongoing commitment to recover all US hostages and support their families.

Majd Kamalmaz, a Texas psychotherapist, disappeared in February 2017 at the age of 59 while traveling in Syria to visit an elderly family member. The FBI has said he was stopped at a Syrian government checkpoint in a suburb of Damascus and had not been heard from since.

Kamalmaz is one of several Americans who have vanished in Syria, including journalist Austin Tice, who went missing in 2012 at a checkpoint in a contested area west of Damascus. Syria has publicly denied holding Americans in captivity.

In February, a vigil was held outside the White House to mark three years since Majd Kamalmaz’s detention. “We do feel invisible,” Maryam Kamalmaz said earlier this year on Hostage and Wrongful Detainee Day about her father’s disappearance. She and other family members of detained Americans called on President Joe Biden to meet with them, but that request was not fulfilled.

“For the last seven years, we have been struggling to come to grips with my father’s absence,” Maryam said in the statement announcing her father’s death. “The anguish and emotional turmoil that our family has been through has taken a heavy toll on our lives. He will be missed tremendously, yet we hope that his legacy of helping others in need lives on and is carried out by many.”

The FBI did not confirm Kamalmaz’s death but reaffirmed that he had not been heard from since his initial disappearance. “No matter how much time has passed, the Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell works on behalf of the victims and their families to recover all US hostages and support the families whose loved ones are held captive or missing,” the FBI said in a statement.


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