By Pat Roush
Friday, March 7, 2003 1:00 a.m.
Again the partnership between the House of Saud and the U.S. Department of State is working to destroy yet another American woman and her recently abducted young child taken to Saudi Arabia only a few weeks ago.
This is one more story of young love on a U.S. college campus involving a Saudi national who was sent to America to study by the Saudi government and his successful seduction of a naive, young American woman, who was ill-equipped to rebuff his continuous advances – and who found out only too late that marriage to a Saudi is dangerous.
A friend of this tragic, young woman e-mailed me for help the day after the kidnapping occurred and told me to wait … the woman was still in North Africa where she was lured with her son by her Saudi husband under the pretense of a “vacation.” The night before they were to return to the states, her husband surreptitiously “laced” a drink, then offered it to her in their hotel room. At first she refused, but he insisted on her joining him in this midnight “cocktail.” Shortly after taking a few sips of the potion, she later had a vague recall of dizziness, blurred vision and then … black out. She awoke the next morning with a rebounding headache and evidence of a sexual encounter which she doesn’t remember participating in.
After realizing that her son and husband were gone, the bewildered woman stumbled downstairs to the hotel lobby where the concierge handed her a plain envelope – no note attached – containing her U.S. passport and a one way ticket back to the U.S. A call to the nearby American embassy confirmed that her little boy was already air bound for the desert kingdom.
Weak, dazed and numb, she returned to her home in America only to find herself being followed by several different unidentified cars. Terrified, she went to the local police station, then to a women’s shelter. They had succeeded – she was plenty scared. Confirming with the Saudi embassy in Washington that her husband had obtained a Saudi passport for the boy prior to their departure to North Africa, she was told to remain quiet and not to contact the press or politicians for assistance. The Saudis were quick to remind her that I had “gone public” and was never able to get my daughters back. She told me, “The Saudis hate you. I will never see my son again if I don’t do what they say.”
The State Department reaffirmed the Saudi embassy’s admonition. They counseled her to work the matter out with the Saudi family who had taken her only child. My coordinated efforts to have the woman – who was totally confused by now – meet with her concerned U.S. senator and various other members of Congress and the media to negotiate with the Saudis for the immediate release of the boy failed because she was told to remain silent – or else!
For almost two decades I have witnessed how the State Department deals with Saudi abduction cases: lower the woman’s expectations of getting her children back, refer her to a Saudi “lawyer” who will spin her one way and then the next, tell her to call the Office of Children’s Issues’ appointed Saudi apologist (an American woman with a dubious record and questionable motivations that has resulted in keeping these new victims of Saudi crimes under wraps), continue the merry-go-round until six months … a year … another year have gone by and then tell her that the child doesn’t want to come back home and “he likes his Saudi family very much – he is well taken care of.”
Last week in Washington, newly appointed assistant secretary of state for Consular Affairs, Maura Harty, held what she has labeled a “Town Hall” meeting for parents of internationally abducted children. Invite was by a form letter and I wasn’t on the guest list. When asked by the press why the day-conference was closed to the media and why I was not able to attend, Harty’s office echoed that it was only open to parents who had “an open and active case.”
But the “Saudi apologist” was there – her case was not open and active. And sitting next to her was the “new kid on the block,” with a far-away look in her eyes – dream walking her way to nowhere.