Sean Moore holding up a blood-stained tee-shirt that he says he wore in a Syrian prison. February 10, 2018. (Photo by Sarah Cowan Blackburn News Chatham-Kent).

Chatham Man Held Captive In Syria, Tortured In Cold, Dark Cell

A Chatham man who was tortured for nearly a month by a terrorist group says he was planning to end his life just days before he was freed.

Sean Allen Moore returned to Canada Tuesday night after his plan to help fellow Chatham resident Jolly Bimbachi take back her children fell apart and resulted in him being abducted by a group associated with al Qaeda.

In May of 2016, Moore say he read a news article about Bimbachi and her fight to get her two sons back after her then-husband took the kids on vacation to Lebanon and said he would not bring them back.

While in Jordan to help another family in Iraq, Moore asked if she would want him to try and negotiate the custody issues with her husband. He says he was unsuccessful negotiating any type of deal with the husband and after that, Bimbachi was still trying to get a custody agreement.

Moore says it was not until Bimbachi finally got a divorce that she was able to travel to Lebanon. He says it is Sharia law that husbands have control over wives so she would be stuck there otherwise.

On November 18, 2017, Moore met with Bimbachi in Lebanon for a court date. Moore says she was in the process of applying for full custody.

“Unfortunately what happened is the ex-husband, the father, through my interpreters told us that if we went to the next level of full custody he would kill the children himself and the mother,” says Moore.

The pair then decided they should go to Turkey, which Moore considers a more neutral Muslim country. Moore says he has many connections in Lebanon and began making arrangements to help Bimbachi back in 2016.

While Bimbachi had visitation with her children, the two decided to carry out their plans. He says his plans to have smugglers help them cross the Turkish border went south quickly, because his contacts decided they did not want to help anymore.

After finding new criminals to help them, they began a two-hour drive–which took longer than expected.

“I knew right away before we left Lebanon that we had been taken– that this wasn’t an escort any longer–that we had been kidnapped. That was even before we went to Syria,” he says.

Moore says their car was stopped and they were forced to walk several hours into Syria’s Assad region. The two were then were taken to a military house and it was then arranged for them to cross the Assad region into the free Syrian army region, near Idlib– which Moore calls the most dangerous place on the planet right now.

After nine days of moving around locations, Moore was told he was going to be driven to house where they keep only men. That is when he got stopped by the al Qaeda-linked group.

“There were about 30 or 40 al Qaeda people who pulled the car over, removed me from the vehicle, and blindfolded me,” says Moore. “They all had their brand new AK-47’s…they put me to the ground, handcuffed me, and drove me to the prison.”

Moore says in that moment, he did not believe he would survive.

“100% I was dead….I knew for sure they were going to kill me right then and there,” says Moore.

Moore says he was stuck in a dark 3×5 foot cell for a month with no clean water source and very little food. Through a small opening in the cell, Moore says the guards would throw moldy bread and cans of beans with no way to open them.

In only 26 days, Moore says he lost 50 pounds.

He says the guards would only take him out of cell only to beat him and try to get him to confess to being a spy or soldier.

“They stopped the beatings within two weeks and then flooded my cell with feces and urine, so I was in the cell for the next two weeks or so wet on concrete” he says.

Moore says the torturing of inmates, including himself, was 24/7.

“They would take me out of the cell, put plastic on the floor, grab me by the head, and put a knife to my throat. I was blindfolded, but I could see through the bottom of the blindfold that they were going to take my head off, and then they never did,” describes Moore. “Then they would come to the cell and put a gun to my head and do the click.”

After finding him guilty to child abduction, the jail sentenced him to 10 years. Moore knew that was not an option.

“I had a plan that I would not let them kill me, that I was going to take care of that myself. I was within about two or three days of carrying that out. I didn’t want them to have the satisfaction, I knew they were going to kill me. Sad to say… another few days I was going to kill myself,” says Moore.

Just days before he was planning to end his life, Moore says Syria’s prime minister, as well as the president and other officials came to free him.

“They wanted to have a great press release, so they gave me a script and told me what to say if they would release me and I would be kind to them,” says Moore. “I hugged the people that were torturing me and thanked them for taking such good care of me.”

Sean Moore claims this letter was given to him by the prime minister of Syria. February 10, 2018. (Photo by Sarah Cowan Blackburn News Chatham-Kent).

Sean Moore claims this letter was given to him by the prime minister of Syria. February 10, 2018. (Photo by Sarah Cowan Blackburn News Chatham-Kent).

Moore adds that the prime minister also gave him a paper saying that the criminality in this situation was him crossing into Syria illegally.

The pair then walked to Turkey, where a Turkish official came to meet them. The two ended up in jail, because the country feared they were spies and were suspicious of the situation.

Moore says he is hoping to set up a meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to discuss his experience. Trudeau announced in April of 2017 that Canada will be giving Syria $840-million to help its people. He says he wants to explain to Trudeau that this money will end up going to a terrorism group and thinks the government should think of a better way to help the war-torn country.