Trump has betrayed my son and put his life in danger, says father of doctor held prisoner in Syria.8 October 2019
Teenage London schoolgirl-turned-ISIS-bride Shamima Begum and NHS doctor Muhammad Shaqib Raza, both held prisoner in Syria, now face death after Donald Trump abandons a key ally there, say their worried families.
Trump dropped a bombshell last night when he tweeted that he will dump the American-backed and British-backed Syrian Kurds, and cannot prevent Turkey sending troops into northern Syria. The Kurds there say they will fight any Turkish incursion across their northern border.
It is not clear if Turkish forces would only create a 10-kilometre-wide buffer zone, or would go further south and overrun the prison camps as fighting and resistance intensifies.
“I blame Donald Trump for this criminal betrayal,” declared the father of the former NHS surgeon. Shawkat Raza is a former major in the Pakistan army who now lives in Australia.
“Thousands of other prisoners could be murdered if and when the people who’ve locked them up in a camp have to go fight the invading Turks.
“I demand that the British government should rescue my son and bring him to Britain,” he told correspondent.world in an exclusive interview. “My son’s life is in serious danger.
“If the Syrian Kurds have to fight the Turks they may wish to eliminate the prisoners first otherwise they would become a threat as the released detainees might return to the conflict.
There’s a possibility that the Turks would bomb the prison camps if they start some sort of incursion. Hundreds or thousands may die – including my son,” Said Major Shawkat.
There was a breakout recently from the prison where Dr Raza is being held. The leader of The Islamic State (ISIS) terror group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, urged his remaining followers to try to free the group’s members from any prisons where they are being held.
“I doubt the Kurdish guards will just abandon the camps and let dangerous people go free and rejoin ISIS. It’s more likely they’ll kill their prisoners – or, just as bad, hand them over to their neighbours the Iraqis. That would be a disaster because they have executed a lot of former detainees after these were captured inside Iraq.”
Major Shawkat revealed he is planning to try to get over the pontoon bridge over to the Tigris River that separates Iraq from Syria. If he gets permission to make the crossing he says he will go to the prison where Dr Raza is being held – and plead with the Kurdish authorities to hand his son over to him.
Dr Raza, 40, has spent nearly two years locked up in a “hellhole”, despised by other ISIS fellow-prisoners. “One of them who’s British, has shown he want to kill me if he gets a chance,” Dr Raza told correspondent.world.
Dr Raza spent eight years doing facial surgery as a locum in several British NHS hospitals before disappearing. He claims he was not trying to join ISIS; rather, he was running away from his estranged wife. She was demanding a £200,000 payment agreed in their ante-nuptial contract, seen by correspondent.world, for a sharia-law marriage.
“I now realise what a mistake I made and if I ever get out I plead with her to forgive me and take me back,” he told correspondent.world.
He said he gone to Turkey to try to create a medical practice, not to join or support ISIS. He had later planned to do humanitarian work, he said, inside a hospital within a strip of Syrian territory already occupied by Turkish forces.
Instead, he says he was kidnapped and lived for more than a year inside ISIS-controlled areas, including a month in a prison cell, before escaping as ISIS territory shrank.
Kurdish forces seized him with his laptop and 21,000 dollars – most unlikely possessions, they say, unless he was in cahoots with ISIS.
Speaking exclusively to correspondent.world in March, the surgeon said he hated ISIS and called on his NHS patients to find a way to “save me – just as I saved your lives or health”.
Begum, 19, is in a northern Syria camp, and also claimed in a recent interview that she has changed her mind about ISIS. She has lost all three children from her ISIS fighter husband, Dutchman Yago Riedijk. They married soon after Begum and two other south London schoolgirls fled and joined ISIS. He is one of the 12,000 alleged male ISIS fighters held by the Syrian Kurds.
Dr Raza, 40, who has dual British and Pakistani nationality, claimed that, as the British Home Office had done nothing to get him back to the UK, he was a “victim of anti-terrorism terrorism”.
His father claims a word from the British government could hold the key to his son’s freedom. Major Shawkat has shown correspondent.world a letter written by the head of foreign relations for the Syrian Kurds, saying they will let Dr Raza free – if he gets support from the Pakistani or British governments to bring him back.