“Suffering is a gift.
In it is hidden mercy!”
(Afnaan Alyusuf, child trafficker on Facebook)
07.06.2015 | 06:00 am
We heard about this video via Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/ShehabAgency.MainPage/videos/1041136535928766/). The child in this video, a victim of severe complex abuse, says in German several times on film: “I don’t want to”. This child, who has had to suffer far more than hunger […] and seems to present a classic case of (complex) abuse, has evidently been “rented out”: I am very familiar with the body language, the despair in the voice, the broken sadness of soul, the fear of being touched (when in this state) and the personality change from seeing them in my own son, who was the same age as this Syrian child is now. We have known for some time that children in Syrian war zones are simply being bought by paedosadists and, after being used, disposed of – and we hope to at least be able to help this little one.
07.06.2015 | Morning
We, Annette Hafner, Anna Cosma, I and others check (among other things) whether this could be Arabic dialect and receive confirmation from an Arab linguist that no, it cannot possibly be Arabic: it’s definitely German. We post the video, asking if anyone has any relevant information, and receive many offers of help. At the same time, we inform the foreign offices of Switzerland, Austria and Germany, as well as Interpol. Within a few hours, we receive an answer from the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs EDA (Switzerland) – they say they are not responsible. We also contact the German-Arabic Association in Berlin in writing – and receive no reply.
The Kinderhilfswerk Noah (a Swiss children’s aid organisation) answers relatively quickly, as follows:
“Kinderhilfswerk Noah – we help Syrian children. Hallo Anna! As far as I know, this child comes from the Palestinian camp “Yarmouk”, or Jarmouk, inside Syria. This camp is near Damascus and has been completely cut off from all humanitarian goods, including food. The people are being starved. This was the case in winter. At the moment, the Islamic State is there! If this is a German child, it must have been locked up there with its mother or father and suffered the fate of many Syrian children in the winter who starved on the streets, particularly if they had lost their parents and had no one to take care of them. This is why it is important that we can at least help the children in other regions as much as possible.”
So the Kinderhilfswerk Noah children’s aid organisation doesn’t know the difference between a starving child and a child who is the victim of complex abuse. What kind of people work there? Who pays them? How can it be that these people seem never to have heard anything about child trafficking, and not to know anything about the symptoms of such children? Who wants us to believe that? And why? Just wondering.
07.06.2015 | Evening
By evening, we have received many offers of help from private individuals, including offers to adopt the little one. We continue researching and inform the media: 20min.ch, Bild-Zeitung, ARD, ZDF, KlagemauerTV.Wien, N24, etc., as well as public figures like Christoph Hörstel and the Syria expert Jürgen Todenhöfer. We receive either no answer at all or rejections.
08.06.2015 | Midday
We receive an answer from Doctors Without Borders / Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF):
“Dear Ms Cosma,
Unfortunately, beyond our medical aid project in Syria and neighbouring countries, which are conducted in difficult conditions, we do not have any additional capacity for researching individual cases – and must therefore regrettably ask for your understanding in this regard.
If you would like to get an idea of our activities, you will find further information here:
08.06.2015 | Afternoon
The crisis management centre of the Germany Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Germany informs us that it will follow the matter up and start an official investigation. Since then, none of us has heard or learned anything more about this matter from the Germany Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We find the original link with the address of the aid organisation with the help of an extremely helpful Syrian on Youtube.com, und begin contacting Doctors Without Borders about fetching the child.
09.06.2015 | 2:00 am
The following pictures are posted and shared on Facebook – “Thank you Simona Rahma”.
We are puzzled: A child who has been so badly abused and raped cannot recover so much within a few days/weeks. This makes us curious to find out more.
09.06.2015 | Midday
At the same time, we discover this video, which is supposed to show “happy” children. What troubles us still more is that the “new/old” child in the film is afraid of the camera: this behaviour is very typical of abused children, as the atrocities (whatever they may be) are filmed for a financially powerful audience and fetch a good price. The children also seem to be ashamed in front of the rolling camera […]. This is no longer just about “Shaza”, but about how we can help the children there on a lasting basis. We have obviously landed right in the middle of the child trafficking scene.
09.06.2015 | Midday
Mimikama – an Austrian disinformation website with no registration information given – is very quick to “clarify” the case: Everything is fine.
11.06.2015 | Early morning
We receive – via a roundabout route – an answer from the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs: they intend to follow the matter up. The letter written to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs by the founder of the TBMC network, Andrea Sadegh M.A., receives no reply.
Dear Ms XY!
Thank you for forwarding this message. We shall pursue the matter and try to find out whether this child has any connection to Austria. The competence of the Consular Section at the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is limited to assisting Austrian citizens abroad. We have also contacted our German and Swiss colleagues.
We have just one more question for you. How did you come across this video?
Andreas Somogyi, M.A.
Deputy Department Manager – Citizens’ Service
Head of Division: Financial assistance for Austrian citizens
Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs
Minoritenplatz 8 (HG 13)
Tel: (+43/0) 50-11-50-4416
Fax: (+43/0) 50-11-59-4416
11.06.2015 | Midday
We research the Facebook page of Simona Rahma, who has openly refused to have contact with us, and discover that one of her Facebook fiends, Afnaan Alyusuf, repeatedly posts messages on her page. Our attention is caught by these posts, so we go to Afnaan Alyusuf’s page and, after a few clicks, find something significant:
“Suffering is a gift.”
“… from the memories of Syria”
“Ritual mutilation as ‘betrayal’”
&, last but not least “Provide Children” (children offered for sale)
11.06.2015 | Evening
We again inform all authorities, Interpol, etc., sending them these pictures, and report to the Facebook users.
Since then, we have not heard back from a single official or the police. The Facebook page of Afnaan Alyusuf https://www.facebook.com/afnaan.alyusuf.9?fref=ts is still online, while the research team faces a great deal of targeting. No media have subsequently reported anything about it. [Note, January 2017: The page under the name Afnaan Alyusuf can now be accessed under the name Afnaan Alyusuf here: https://www.facebook.com/safkak.creationz?fref=ts ]
In the following weeks and months we receive further pictures of complex traumatised children or of children who are being openly offered for sale from the war and crisis zones, while for Interpol, ministries and governments take absolutely no interest in the issue.
Translation by Verity Speedwell