“Arrested then Disappeared Because of a Fabricated and a Malicious Charge”

Account of the Disappeared Najm al-Din al-Hussein by al-Nusra Front

Najem al-Din Hasan al-Hussein, born in June 1977, in Al-Safirah town located in Aleppo province. His mother is Fatouma. Najem al-Din owned some lands, he used to invest and rent them to peasants. He was married with two daughters; the eldest one was three years old when he disappeared, “she is now seven years old”. His wife was two month’s pregnant with the second daughter when he disappeared; she is now four years old.

According to Najem al-Din’s wife in her testimony to Syrians for Justice and Truth/STJ[1]  that at 12:00 pm on December 10, 2012, Najem al-Din was sitting with his brother and his brother-in-law “Ali” outdoor in Al-Safirah, when a car carrying six masked armed elements  started shooting fire in the air and arrested Najem al-Din and his brother-in-law, while his brother managed to escape.

The story started when some relatives threatened Najem al-Din 10 days before being abducted and accused him that he was a Shabih, which means to be an informer of the Syrian government. It is noteworthy that Najem al-Din was already in controversy with his relatives who accused him and always intended to harm him. His relatives were affiliated to Hayat Tahrir al-sham/HTS, formerly al-Nusra Front. His family later knew that Najem al-Din’s relatives had gathered six witnesses to falsely witness that he and his brother-in-law are informer of the Syrian government. However, al-Nusra Front, Hayat Tahrir al-sham/HTS, had great control over al-Safirah at the time along with some other armed opposition groups such as Ahrar al-Sham and many many other factions. Anyway, each family used to form its own armed faction, Najem al-Din’s wife expressed.

A day before the arrest, Najem al-Din, his brother, and his brother-in-law met a “Tunisian Sheikh, who was the official in the Hayaa al-Sharia of al-Nusra Front in Al-Safirah, they swore on the holy Koran that they had not carried weapons or help the Syrian government or assist them or anything like that. The Sheikh told them that they must return at 12:00 p.m. the next day to get a paper that allows them to pass the checkpoints safely. However, ten minutes before the appointment, a patrol including masked young men dressed in black from heads to feet and spoke a dialect supposed to be the local and not from other countries, abducted them.

 Najem al-Din’s family tried to find intermediaries and searched for them a lot until they were assure that Najem al-Din and his brother-in-law were at the headquarters of the Hayaa al-Sharia at the Eye Hospital in Aleppo. The source told them that al-Nusra Front, Hayat Tahrir al-sham/HTS, interrogated them for few days and they would release later, but nothing happened. After that, the family heard that the Hayaa al-Sharia had transferred the two disappeared to al-Ra’ee Prison in the northern countryside of Aleppo. Meantime, Najem al-Din’s wife paid sum of money to an intermediary for a visit to the two disappeared persons, but he returned several days later and handed the money back saying that it was “very thorny” case, and the more they tried to learn about it, the more they hurt themselves. Even though this person was a leader of a faction in the area at the time.

In 2016, it was reported to Najem al-Din’s wife that he was transferred along with his brother-in-law to a prison in Atarib located in Aleppo countryside. News about their fate was conflicting since that day, as some said they were still in Atarib prison, others denied that, confirming that the two disappeared were in al-Ra’ee Prison. However, the family has no new information regarding Najem al-Din and his brother-in law up till now.

 Najem al-Din’s wife talked about the effects of her husband’s disappearance. She said:

“Najem al-Din disappearance caused a great psychological shock to us, as I remained shocked for four years unable to perform my daily tasks and live a normal life, but in the last year I began to get used to it a little… My daughters, especially the little girl, always ask me where my dad is. We want my dad… The family suffers from trauma, loneliness, parting, and missing father`s love. Regarding the financial state, Najem al-Din was the breadwinner, so we were forced to flee to Turkey after his disappearance, we left our house and everything we had, and we are now staying with my brother in Turkey.”

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[1] The meeting was conducted on  July 19, 2017 via the Internet.

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