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US citizen who Syria regime disappeared in 2017 now presumed dead, says daughter

May 20, 2024 at 1:48 pm

Majd Kamalmaz [MKamalmaz/X]

An American citizen who the Syrian regime disappeared seven years ago is now confidently presumed to be dead, according to his daughter and US officials.

In 2017, Majd Kamalmaz, a then-59-year-old Syrian-American dual citizen, travelled to Syria to visit an elderly family member when he was stopped at a security checkpoint in a suburb of Damascus and disappeared. No word or information has been heard from him ever since, and his fate has remained a mystery up to now.

According to the Associated Press, his daughter, Maryam Kamalmaz, has now revealed that eight unnamed senior US officials informed her at a meeting in Washington DC that they possess credible and convincing evidence that he had already died under Syrian custody.

The officials reportedly believe that Kamalmaz had died early on into his detention, with one theory from 2020 having been his death was caused by heart failure in 2017, the same year he was apprehended.

Read: US citizen wins $50m lawsuit against Assad regime over imprisonment, torture in Syria

During the meeting, the officials told her that, on a scale of one to 10, their confidence level regarding her father’s death was a “high nine”, and they replied in the negative when she asked if other Americans detained in Syria had been recovered in the face of such chances.

“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,” Maryam said. “Not until this meeting, did they really confirm to us how credible the information is and the different levels of (verification) it had to go through,” which she refrained from elaborating on.

The apparent confirmation comes amid the US’s ongoing efforts to secure the release of Americans held hostage or detained within Syria. Although Washington has attempted to secretly communicate with the Syrian regime to directly negotiate on the matter, it has also attempted to do so through intermediates such as Lebanon and Oman, who have diplomatic relations with Damascus.