N.Y. father, son allegedly kidnapped daughter and forced her into arranged marriage in Yemen
02/17/2023 1:31 pm PST
BUFFALO, N.Y. (TCD) -- A 50-year-old man and his 32-year-old son have been arrested for allegedly kidnapping the man’s daughter and forcing her into an arranged marriage in Yemen.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of New York, officials took Khaled Abughanem and his son Waleed Abughanem into custody on a charge of conspiracy to kidnap persons in a foreign country. They could face up to life in prison if convicted.
In December, the FBI reportedly began investigating the case when they learned an adult woman was allegedly "tricked into traveling from the Buffalo area to Yemen in an attempt to force her into an arranged marriage."
Khaled and Waleed Abughanem reportedly threatened to kill the woman, who is Khaled’s daughter and Waleed’s sister, if she did not cooperate.
In the statement, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said the victim traveled to Mexico in September 2017. Her family learned about her travels and "physically forced her, involuntarily, to return to the United States."
Khaled Abughanem allegedly told her she "would be traveling outside the United States whether she liked it or not, or he would bury her in the backyard."
The woman was reportedly forced to withdraw from her studies at the University of Buffalo and could not leave her home because all the doors were locked. Her family allegedly would not let her use social media or the internet, and she was "under constant threat of harm."
Around the time she returned from Mexico, the woman’s fiancé called Lackawanna Police and said he had not seen her for at least a week. The fiancé called police other times, but members of the Abughanem family allegedly told officers the woman was fine and they needed to stop conducting welfare checks.
At the end of 2021, the family reportedly traveled to Sanaa, Yemen. Khaled Abughanem allegedly told his daughter, "You are no longer in the West. You are in the Middle East. Women like you are killed."
The woman reportedly told officials her father arranged a marriage in which he would be paid $500,000 but the woman refused, and he allegedly physically assaulted her.
In April, some of the woman’s family members traveled back to New York from Yemen, but she reportedly remains there "under the supervision of two of her brothers."
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