"Inside The Child Recovery Industry - Snatchbacks" is the title of a post by Janet Langjahr at Florida Divorce Law Blog.
"Some of the most challenging cases for parents and their attorneys are international kidnapping cases.
Unfortunately, it can take months and years to guide these cases through the court system. And ultimate success - getting your child back - is not guaranteed, even if you win a court order.
Some people give up on the legal system before they get that far. Some never bother trying it.
The Akron (OH) Beacon Journal publishes a chilling yet compelling series of articles about the “child recovery industry”, snatchback-ers.
This is not an endorsement of extra-legal methods of child retrieval. But the article is thought-provoking and eye-opening for parents who may someday face such a nightmarish situation."
From the first in a series,
"This is a tale of hate and love, revenge and courage - of a Cherokee preacher's daughter from the pine country of central Florida whose quest to recover her kidnapped daughter transformed her from a sensitive, charitable woman into a gun-toting warrior unrecognizable to friends and family.
It is also, however, an epic, international saga that unveils the volatile, secret world of the child recovery industry, a big-money business in which the interests of desperate parents, mercenaries and governments dovetail and collide.
In this world, shady characters would come and go in Maureen's life, making grandiose promises with no intention of ever delivering. Smugglers, guerrillas, even members of terrorist groups would become allies, and men of law would turn their backs on her, leaving Maureen to push on, alone.
This account is, in large part, Maureen's version of events. It is supported by other interviews and hundreds of documents, including personal letters, entries from diaries, court papers, hospital records, foreign and U.S. immigration records, Interpol cables, State Department papers, FBI memos, and other documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.
It cannot all be corroborated, however, because portions of many documents have been blacked out, and others classified on grounds of national security. As a matter of policy, the government does not disclose details on cases of international child abduction. The State Department declined several requests to present its side of this story, and would only discuss snatchbacks in general terms and anonymously.
Although Maureen Dabbagh shared her story exclusively with an AP reporter, she would not discuss some of the things she did or some aspects of the snatchback world, for fear of compromising the work of agents still in the field or violating the privacy of parents who turned to child recovery agents out of desperation.
For 12 more years, Maureen would struggle to get back her daughter, exhausting every legal and diplomatic channel open to her. Whenever she turned to officials in the United States or the Middle East, she got excuses, delays, empty promises, indifference.
In many ways, her experience is typical of thousands of "left-behinds" - parents whose children have been kidnapped by estranged spouses and taken abroad in violation of U.S. court orders. Since 1977, the government has opened files on more than 16,000 cases of international child abduction. In most cases, the children are lost for good.
And experts say the problem is only worsening, as rising immigration, cheaper and easier air travel, and online dating have swelled the number of bicultural marriages in America.
When Hisham kidnapped their daughter and authorities were slow to respond, Maureen felt she had just two choices: Let go of her child forever, or attempt a snatchback."
Maureen's story certainly highlights the anguish of parental kidnapping. We look forward to the rest of the articles in the series.