Wife fears for life of man accused of terrorism in Syria

AN AUSTRALIAN man seized in Syria has been accused of interacting with a terrorist group by the Assad regime.

Mohammad Alkakouni’s family fear he may have been killed, as they have heard little about the Australian-Syrian national since he was captured more than six months ago.

The office of the Foreign Affairs Minister, Bob Carr, has repeatedly tried to confirm the welfare of Mr Alkakouni, whose wife and three children live in south-west Sydney.

A list provided to the United Nations Security Council in October by the Syrian government named Mr Alkakouni among more than 100 foreign nationals who have been arrested for terrorism-related offences. The list has been published online this week.

But Mr Alkakouni’s wife, Saphia, said there was no evidence that her husband, who ran a business making dips in the city of Dar’a, was plotting against the Assad regime. She said he was captured when Syrian police surrounded the area of the city where Mr Alkakouni worked on June 30. He was bundled into a mini-bus and has not been seen since.

”We have heard he might have been moved to a jail in Damascus, but we have no real answers,” Mrs Alkakouni said. ”We’re just so worried that he won’t come back alive.”

Mrs Alkakouni said she fled Syria with her 14-year-old daughter and sons aged 11 and five in September. They stayed with relatives in Lebanon before returning to Sydney, where they had lived until 2011.

”It’s been very stressful for the children, it’s hard for them to settle in school,” she said.

”We left our home there, with everything inside. It’s hard explaining why we don’t have what we used to have, but it’s much harder explaining why their father is not here any more.

The Sydney Muslim community leader Keysar Trad said Mr Alkakouni, whom he knew, may have been targeted because of his dual nationality.

”I’m shocked they would do something like this to a person like him, such a good person.

”[But] dual nationals are very valuable scalps for the regime because they can concoct all sorts of stories about them, like that they’re spying for another country.”

A spokesman for Mr Carr couldn’t confirm Mr Alkakouni’s identity. He said the family of an Australian man taken from Dar’a on June 30 had contacted the government asking for assistance.

The Syrian government claims Mr Alkakouni was involved with a terrorist group in the city, but the nature of his involvement is unclear as the UN translation of that part of the letter says it was ”illegible”.

Mr Carr’s spokesman said the Department of Foreign Affairs officials had attempted to contact the Syrian government through the Hungarian and Egyptian embassies, but had not been able to confirm anything about what the man had been accused of, where he was being held, or whether he was alive.

Mrs Alkakouni said she was not convinced the department had done everything it could to contact Syrian officials.

Three Australians have been killed in Syria in the past four months, with their families saying they had travelled to the troubled country as aid workers.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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