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L.A. mothers reunited with abducted sons

Two Los Angeles mothers separated from their abducted sons for 2 1/2 years flew to the Netherlands for a weekend reunion, an FBI spokeswoman said Monday.

Christine Stackhouse, mother of Greg Silah, 12, and Zanni Kalayejian, mother of Alexander Silah, 14, and Zaven Silah, 11, flew to Amsterdam after receiving word from the FBI late last week that the boys and their fathers had been located in the Netherlands. 

George and John Silah, who are brothers, were arrested by Dutch authorities on parental abduction charges stemming from their flight out of the country with the boys after a custodial visit in July 2008, said Laura Eimiller, a spokeswoman with the FBI's Los Angeles office.

They brothers are being held in Dutch custody pending state and federal kidnapping charges, she said. It's unclear yet whether the United States will request extradition to bring the Silahs to Los Angeles, though that is typically the case in international abductions.

The men vanished with their sons at the end of a summer visit in July 2008. Their ex-wives took to the Internet and the air waves in a campaign to find the boys and bring them back home. On one website, the brothers are described as Syrian natives who were in financial trouble at the time they fled.

Eimiller said the both mothers will be returning to Los Angeles with their boys as soon as they can work out travel arrangements and other paperwork. Eimiller said she was unable to comment on how the reunion went or about the emotional state of the children.

But Find the Children, a Santa Monica group that helps missing parents find their children, said abducted youths typically need intensive therapy after enduring such an emotional ordeal.

"Some children actually think they’ve been on vacation,'' said Karen Strickland, the group's executive director. "Some suffer physical and emotional abuse. Some have their hair died and their identities changed. They are traumatized and need help to resume their lives."

Estimates of missing children vary, but missing children's groups say that tens of thousands are illegally separated from parents every year. The vast majority are taken by parents or other relatives who don't have legal custody, experts say.

-- Catherine Saillant

 

 

 
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