Sat. May 18th, 2024

Yusuf Zahab: The story of the Sydney schoolboy taken to live under IS then lost in a Syrian prison

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell May5,2024

Travelling to Syria in search of Yusuf, the team met with the SDF and the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) to arrange contact.

“We say this to whoever wants to take their citizens: we are ready to assist them,” said co-chair of the AANES’ Department of Foreign Relations, Badran Çiya Kurd.

“The situation in Rojava (northeast Syria) is suitable and sufficient for diplomats
to come from abroad.”

After a few days of waiting, SBS Dateline had secured an interview with Yusuf,
the boy once thought lost, even dead.

Taken to a secure third location, so as not to reveal the prison he is being held in, SBS Dateline laid eyes on him for the first time – a young man, handcuffed and hollow-eyed, desperate to hear news of the outside world.

When he learned who he was speaking with, a boyish smile appeared.

Yusuf says this was the first time in five years he’d spoken with an Australian in person.

At the time of writing, DFAT has not replied to Dateline’s question on whether Australian authorities had had direct contact with Yusuf since he was detained by Kurdish forces in 2019.

A written statement DFAT provided to SBS Dateline reiterated its challenges of official communication in the region.

“Our ability to provide consular assistance to Australians in Syria is severely limited due to the security situation.”

Yusuf’s fate remains in the hands of the SDF, until a time when the Australian government chooses to intervene.

Yusuf is unsure if he still has tuberculosis, but described a pain in his chest and reported headaches, dizziness and occasional blackouts.

But his primary concern is if he will be repatriated.

“Are they going to take me back to Australia?” he asked.
“What’s going to happen to me?”

Hearing of his family’s continued efforts to find him, Yusuf expressed his desperation
to see them again.

“I want to hug my mum. I want to hug my sister. I just want to sit down with them,”
Yusuf says.

“Please don’t forget me here.”

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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One thought on “Yusuf Zahab: The story of the Sydney schoolboy taken to live under IS then lost in a Syrian prison”
  1. It’s heartbreaking to read about Yusuf’s harrowing journey. I hope that diplomatic efforts can bring him back home safely soon.

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