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Based on the case of Gabriela Arias Uriburu. Year 1991.
In 1991, Gabriela Arias Uriburu married Imad Shaban in Guatemala, despite the fact that he was a Catholic and she was a Muslim. They had three children together, but this was not enough to save their multicultural marriage, and in 1997 Gabriela filed for divorce with the Guatemalan Civil Court, which also granted her custody of their three children.
However, on 10 December 1997, Imad Shaban kidnapped their three children, Karim, Zahira and Sharif, from Guatemala and the four of them disappeared…
It was weeks before the FBI learnt that they had illegally entered Miami before travelling on to Jordan, a Muslim country. Under Jordanian law, Gabriela would only be able leave the country with the permission of her ex-husband’s family: if she went there, she wouldn’t be allowed to leave.
Her case, the first of its kind at the time, pitted the legal systems of East and West against one another. Gabriela’s only chance to see her children again would be to make it a leading case, learning to use the tools of diplomacy, press coverage and governmental pressure to turn the tide in her favour.
From Hillary Clinton and the Pope to the CIA and the FB; from the Presidents of Guatemala and Argentina to the King of Jordan himself, Abdullah II, nobody could ignore this desperate mother, ready to do whatever it took. They would all have to hear her out. A team of illegal commandos even proposed entering through Syria to carry out a counter-kidnapping, taking the children across the border, but they admitted it was unlikely all three children would make it out alive …
After putting together a comprehensive media strategy, it would take Gabriela a year to see her children again. And even that first visit was accompanied by rooftop snipers and a dozen security personnel. At last, though, the moment had arrived when she could finally give her youngest son a hug.
Gabriela has published four books that have been bestsellers on Amazon, published in Argentina and Spain.
Marriage Story, The Glass Castle, Changeling, Lost Girls.