Monday, October 18, 2010
Family of abducted Baghdad Jew told: 'it's over'
The family of a newly-married Jewish man abducted in Baghdad five years ago have been told that he is dead, Point of No Return has learned.
"We have dealt with this case from the Prime Minister to the Minister for Prisons down and I am sorry to say it is over," said Canon Andrew White (pictured), who has been 'intimately' involved in the case since the beginning.
The young man's family had been pinning their hopes on rumours that he had been sighted in prison, broken but alive. Canon Andrew White, who spends half his time in Baghdad as vicar of the Anglican church of St George and is unofficial 'protector' of the remaining handful of Jews, dashed those hopes today: " The fact is (he) was kidnapped like thousands of others here and he is dead."
The young man and his bride, one of the last eligible Jewesses in Baghdad, were married in Amman in September 2005 by a rabbi who had travelled from Belgium. The couple decided to return to Baghdad although Iraq was at its height of chaos and lawlessness.
Shortly afterwards, the bridegroom was abducted. Attempts to get information about his whereabouts or condition in the months following proved fruitless. The Sephardi community in London collected a large ransom simply to get information, but the trail ran cold.
However, until they learned for certain of his fate, the kidnapped man's wife, who works with Andrew White as a dentist in his clinic, and another brother, chose to remain in Baghdad. His mother, who is in poor health, and a third brother, are in Britain.
Canon Andrew White had this to say to the family: "All the time there are stories that those kidnapped have been seen in prison. This is not true and very unhelpful. In particular it is very unhelpful to K. (the wife). She knows he is dead and is getting on with her life. It is not easy for her or any of the relatives of those kidnapped. They are all hoping their loved ones are in prison and they are not. So many people have been involved in this case all trying to do something but all making the case a lot worse."
Canon White has been instrumental in improving the conditions under which the Jews of Baghdad, and other threatened minorities, live. Only seven remain: one left for Israel just a couple of weeks ago.