Photo Credit: Photo Credit: Ardalan Hamedani
American Woman Kidnapped by Family and Allegedly Forced to marry for A $500K Dowry
An American woman is being detained in Yemen after her family tricked and kidnapped her in an attempt to derail her wedding.
The unnamed victim planned to celebrate her wedding in Guadalajara, Mexico last September and invited her family to the occasion. However, her disapproving father, mother and brothers conspired to kidnap her instead. According to the Department of Justice statement, the family wanted to force her to marry someone else in Yemen.
Here’s everything you need to know about the victim who allegedly was kidnapped.
Her father vowed that he would support of her marriage to her fiancé, who she knew for almost nine years. However, unbeknown to her, the victim’s family allegedly tried to force her fiancé to pay a $30,000 dowry. After the woman intervened, her father, Khaled Abughanem, threatened to throw her from the 12th floor of the hotel.
The following day, her father allegedly changed his mind and came to a “gentleman’s agreement” with the groom. He agreed to support their union — if he could host a party and the ceremony in the United States. The victim agreed to those new terms. However, that is only the beginning.
What Happened When They Returned?
Upon returning to the States, the victim’s family kidnapped her and locked in her family’s home under strict supervision. She wasn’t even able to use the restroom in privacy.
Another family member impersonated her and withdrew her from all of her classes at the University of Buffalo. They also erased her presence on social media. The woman’s family forced her to fly to Egypt. There, they planned an arranged marriage to an undetermined man in Egypt or Yemen. In return, the family would have received $500,000, according to Insider.
Kidnapped And Mistreated By Her Own Family
According to the DOJ statement, her family told her that she had to comply and agree to an arranged marriage. If she did not agree to those terms, they would lock her up in the home without contact. Her family told her that if she didn’t comply with what they wanted they would kill her fiancé.
“You are no longer in the West,” Abughanem said to his daughter, according to the DOJ’s statement. “You are in the Middle East. Women, like you, are killed.”
Now, Khaled and Waleed Abughanem, the woman’s father and brother, face pending kidnapping charges and are currently in custody. Their detention hearing is set for March 2, after being scheduled for February 17.
“Waleed Abughanem denies any allegation of criminal conduct or wrongdoing whatsoever,” Frank Passafiume, an assistant federal public defender, told the Buffalo News. “Beginning at the hearing next week, we will vindicate his name and undo the damage all too often caused by government overreach into our personal lives and disregard of cultural diversity.”
The fate of the woman’s mother as it relates to facing charges for her involvement remains unknown.
Where’s the Victim?
The victim is currently in Yemen. She is receiving support through an unnamed nonprofit, according to court documents.
She allegedly experienced unthinkable abuse since being kidnapped. The report mentions that she was being pushed down stairs, whipped with a belt and choked by her father. The details of her treatment stem from several sources, including a filing that referenced US Customs records, a testimony by the woman’s fiancé, text messages between Khaled and Waleed Abughanem, and secret emails sent by the woman herself.
“Victim 1 believes she only survived the assault due to the intervention of her mother,” the court filing reads. Her father allegedly said that he “should’ve killed you before I left Yemen,” and that his “biggest mistake was to keep you alive.”
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