US Intelligence Suggests American Who Vanished in Syria in 2017 Has Died, Daughter Says

Maryam Kamalmaz holds a photo of her father with some of his 14 grandchildren in Grand Prairie, Texas, Jan. 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)
Maryam Kamalmaz holds a photo of her father with some of his 14 grandchildren in Grand Prairie, Texas, Jan. 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)
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US Intelligence Suggests American Who Vanished in Syria in 2017 Has Died, Daughter Says

Maryam Kamalmaz holds a photo of her father with some of his 14 grandchildren in Grand Prairie, Texas, Jan. 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)
Maryam Kamalmaz holds a photo of her father with some of his 14 grandchildren in Grand Prairie, Texas, Jan. 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

US officials have developed specific and highly credible intelligence suggesting that an American citizen who disappeared seven years ago while traveling in Syria has died, the man's daughter said Saturday.

Maryam Kamalmaz said in an interview with The Associated Press that during a meeting in Washington this month with eight senior American officials she was presented with detailed intelligence about the presumed death of her father, Majd, a psychotherapist from Texas.

The officials told her that on a scale of one to 10, their confidence level about her father's death was a "high nine." She said she asked whether other detained Americans had ever been successfully recovered in the face of such credible information, and was told no.

"What more do I need? That was a lot of high-level officials that we needed to confirm to us that he’s really gone. There was no way to beat around the bush," Maryam Kamalmaz said.

She said officials told her they believe the death occurred years ago, early in her father's captivity. In 2020, she said, officials told the family that they had reason to believe that he has died of heart failure in 2017, but the family held out hope and US officials continued their pursuit.

But, she said, "Not until this meeting did they really confirm to us how credible the information is and the different levels of (verification) it had to go through."

She did not describe the intelligence she learned.

Spokespeople for the White House and the FBI, which investigates abductions in foreign countries, did not immediately return messages seeking comment Saturday.

Majd Kamalmaz disappeared in February 2017 at the age of 59 while traveling in Syria to visit an elderly family member. The FBI has said he was stopped at a Syrian government checkpoint in a suburb of Damascus and had not been heard from since.

Kamalmaz is one of multiple Americans who have disappeared in Syria, including the journalist Austin Tice, who went missing in 2012 at a checkpoint in a contested area west of Damascus. Syria has publicly denied holding Americans in captivity.

In 2020, in the final months of the Trump administration, senior officials visited Damascus for a high-level meeting aimed at negotiating release of the Americans. But the meeting proved unfruitful, with the Syrians not providing any proof-of-life information and making demands that US officials deemed unreasonable. US officials have said they are continuing to try to bring home Tice.

The New York Times first reported on the presumed death of Majd Kamalmaz.



Hezbollah Fires New Barrage at Israel, Which Vows to Hit Back

Hezbollah members take part in a military exercise during a media tour organized for the occasion of Resistance and Liberation Day, in Aaramta, Lebanon, May 21, 2023. (Reuters)
Hezbollah members take part in a military exercise during a media tour organized for the occasion of Resistance and Liberation Day, in Aaramta, Lebanon, May 21, 2023. (Reuters)
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Hezbollah Fires New Barrage at Israel, Which Vows to Hit Back

Hezbollah members take part in a military exercise during a media tour organized for the occasion of Resistance and Liberation Day, in Aaramta, Lebanon, May 21, 2023. (Reuters)
Hezbollah members take part in a military exercise during a media tour organized for the occasion of Resistance and Liberation Day, in Aaramta, Lebanon, May 21, 2023. (Reuters)

Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah group said it fired a new wave of rockets and drones at the Israeli army on Thursday, after an Israeli strike killed one of its senior commanders, AFP reported.
It was Hezbollah’s largest simultaneous attack in near-daily cross-border fire between it and the Israeli army since its ally Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel triggered the Gaza war.
Hezbollah fighters launched “an attack with rockets and drones, targeting six barracks and military sites” while simultaneously flying “squadrons of explosive-laden drones” at three other Israeli bases, the group said in a statement.
One of the targets included an Israeli base that Hezbollah said housed an intelligence headquarters “responsible for the assassinations.”
Hezbollah said the attacks were “part of the response to the assassination” of Hezbollah commander Taleb Abdallah on Tuesday.
The Israeli army said about “40 projectiles were launched toward the Galilee and Golan Heights area,” adding most were intercepted while others ignited fires.
The Israeli government vowed to respond strongly to all Hezbollah attacks.
“Israel will respond with force to all aggressions by Hezbollah,” government spokesman David Mencer said during a press briefing.
“Whether through diplomatic efforts or otherwise, Israel will restore security on our northern border,” he added.
In recent weeks, cross-border exchanges have escalated, with Hezbollah stepping up its use of drones to attack Israeli military positions and Israel hitting back with targeted strikes against the militants.
On Wednesday, top Hezbollah official Hashem Safieddine vowed the group would “increase the intensity, strength, quantity and quality of our attacks,” while speaking at Abdallah’s funeral.
The Israeli army confirmed it carried out the strike that “eliminated” Abdallah on Tuesday, describing him as “one of Hezbollah’s most senior commanders in southern Lebanon.”
A Lebanese military source said he was the “most important” Hezbollah commander to have been killed since the start of the war.
The cross-border violence has killed at least 468 people in Lebanon, most of them fighters but also including 89 civilians, according to an AFP tally.
Israeli authorities say at least 15 Israeli soldiers and 11 civilians have been killed.