Ohio-born engineering student Obada Mzaik missing in Syria – By Nina Mandell
Family says the 21-year-old was detained at the airpot
Tuesday, January 24 2012, 8:49 AM
A Michigan man is fearing the worst after his 21-year-old nephew student went missing in Syria.
Obada Mzaik, who is a dual American and Syrian citizen, disappeared three weeks ago after flying from Detroit to Damascus to study civil engineering there, the Detroit News reported.
His 19-year-old brother, Obaie Mzaik, who was also on the flight, reportedly said that when they landed in Damascus, security guards took his sibling away.
The brothers, both born in America, returned to Syria with their parents an have lived there since 1994, MSNBC reported. But after Obada was arrested and spent 37 days in prison in 2011, his mother sent him to live in Michigan with his uncle.
He took classes at community college but decided to return to Syria for the start of the university semester.
Now, his family fears he’s been taken back into custody.
« It’s horrendous because knowing what we know about the prison system over there, anything goes, » Obada’s uncle, Dr. Firas Nashef, told the Detroit News.
A Facebook page asking for Obada’s freedom has received more than 1,200 likes and a petition on Change.org requesting that the State Department act has received more than 630 signatures.
The State Department told MSNBC it was aware of the matter and working with officials in Syria.
Mzaik’s disappearance comes as Syrian authorities are in the midst of a yearlong crackdown on protesters and dissidents. Last week, President Obama and other countries around the world condemned the violence and urged President Bashar al-Assad to step down.
On Tuesday, the European Union approved a fresh round of sanctions against the Syrian government there as 33 more people, including 28 civilians, were reported killed, according to Sky News.
The United Nations estimates more than 5,400 people have died in the violence.