An eight-year-old Syrian child has been released three months and ten days after he was kidnapped and held hostage by a gang near Daraa who demanded a hefty ransom from his family.
Fawaz al-Qataifan was released after his family paid the ransom to four kidnappers who had abducted him while on his way to school.
The abductors had demanded 400 million Syrian pounds (around £118,000) from the family.
Earlier this month, a video on social media was in circulation that showed Fawaz naked and being beaten by his abductors. He was screaming “For God’s sake, don’t hit me.”
Fawaz told Al-Watan newspaper: “They brought a rope and lifted me on the shed, and there was a man on top, and after they pulled me up, they started beating me with a leather belt.”
Daraa Governorate Police Commander, Brigadier Dirar al-Dandal, told the Syrian Arab News Agency: “With the continuous follow-up and in coordination with the Criminal Security Department and Interpol, the international number through which the kidnappers communicated with the child’s family was monitored. The people associated with the phone number were identified. Four days ago, we raided the village of al-Katibah near Khirbet Ghazala in the Daraa countryside, and four people were arrested, including the main person whose number was linked to the kidnappers’ number…
“The kidnappers cut off their communication for a whole day after arresting this person, in anticipation of any confessions from him, and since we did not say what he confessed, they called the child’s family again and agreed on a date for his release and delivery of the ransom on Wednesday, but they did not comply…
“The kidnappers contacted the child’s uncle on Friday and gave him a new appointment on Daraa-Damascus highway towards the town of Nassib at five o’clock in the evening and asked the child’s father, not his uncle, to come and to send them a picture of the car he would be travelling in. We, in turn, circulated the image of the car to our personnel, which spread in a hidden way in the area, but the kidnappers broke the appointment again.
“The kidnappers contacted the child’s family again on Saturday at noon and demanded that the father go to the city of Nawa, and they identified an area near the grain silos on the road towards Quneitra, where armed groups are deployed. With the arrival of the child’s father and mother to the area and the sum of money with them, the kidnappers released the child.”
Al-Dandal pointed out that the police did not interfere with the aim of preserving the child’s life after the kidnappers threatened to kill him.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR): “His abduction has finalised with a happy end after his release and return home. However, the fate of hundreds of kidnapped Syrians remains unknown, as their cases have not been publicised.
“Accordingly, we, at SOHR, renew our call for an immediate release of the kidnapped people whether children, women and men and call on the international society to quickly disclose the fate of them and expose all the involved parties in the crimes of abduction.”