On a video smuggled out of Qatar, a terrified 11 year old Adam Jones begs Prime Minister Cameron to help him. “My name is Adam. I’m 11 years old and need your help. I’ve been kidnapped by my uncle. I feel so scared. Someone out there please help me. I’m alone and I have no idea what to do. It’s terrifying. Terrifying. I’m scared and I need help. Please, I’m begging. Please help me.”
I feel sorry for this little boy, but I blame the mother. Any non-Muslim woman who marries a Muslim in any country risks losing her children, sooner or later. And there’s virtually nothing anyone can do about it.
UK DAILY MAILAt first glance, the dark-haired figure in the video clip appears more like a terrified hostage pleading for his life than a British schoolboy begging to be reunited with his mother. Then there is the handwritten letter — composed in secret and smuggled out in the hope that there was one man who could help set him free: David Cameron. ‘Dear Prime Minister,’ it begins in childish script. ‘I need your help. I was kidnapped by my uncle . . . My life is very bad and not fun because of him. I want to live with my Mum. I do not want to be in a prison. I am terrified and scared. Please please help me.’
It is almost two years since Adam was dramatically snatched from his British mother while visiting his dead father’s wealthy family in the oil-rich Gulf state of Qatar. Since then he has been under virtual house arrest at his uncle’s home in the Qatari capital Doha despite attempts by his mother, Rebecca Jones, to get him back.
Now, after months of heartache and despair, she has decided to go public about their case in the hope of finally shocking the Qatari authorities into releasing her son. The youngster is now at the centre of an extraordinary battle between Rebecca and the Al Madhaki family who have told Rebecca to ‘forget you have a son’. The boy’s own pleas for help over the past 20 months have also been in vain, despite Adam’s letter to Downing Street.
Rebecca met Adam’s father, telecoms executive Jamal Al Madhaki, in 1994 when she was living and working in Bahrain as a human resources consultant. They split in 1998, but when she discovered she was pregnant she married Jamal at an Islamic ceremony in Bahrain, knowing that as an unmarried mother she risked losing her job.
The couple never lived together and Jamal did not see his son, who has dual British and Qatari citizenship, until three months after his birth in 1999. They were divorced according to normal Islamic practice, without any formal hearing or documentation, and Jamal made no application or request for custody of Adam. Both remarried. ‘Jamal visited us every three or four months,’ says Rebecca. ‘He had a good relationship with Adam and I always fostered that.
Rebecca, who converted to Islam before Adam’s birth and was raising him as a Muslim, also took her young son on visits to Qatar to see his father and his family. Then, in 2005, when Adam was five, tragedy struck. Jamal was killed in a motorbike crash in Qatar. But even after his death Rebecca resolved to keep in contact with the Al Madhakis. And so in October 2009, she took Adam to Qatar at the start of what was intended as a three-day visit.
The subject of Adam’s inheritance from his dead father, which had cropped up before but had never seemed to Rebecca to be a major problem, was raised. In hindsight, Rebecca believes that since the day Jamal died, his family’s sole concern has been Adam’s claim on his father’s estate.
‘They told me there was a portion of land in Qatar for Adam and something from his father’s life assurance policies,’ she says. ’ On the final day of the trip, Adam’s uncle, Fahad, took Rebecca to an office in Doha where he claimed officials would help sort out the legal paperwork in connection with Adam’s inheritance.
In fact, the forms would later be used to support the Al Madhakis’ custody claim against her. Within minutes of signing, Rebecca realised she had been tricked. ‘As soon as the papers were signed, Adam’s uncle Fahad told me: “Jamal didn’t take your son but I will.” ’
While she was at the office, Adam was taken away from his grandmother’s house and hidden with another relative. His mobile phone was confiscated.
In Qatar, such cases are heard by an Islamic Sharia court which uses the teachings of the Koran and Muslim clerics to decide the verdict. Rebecca — who until that time had never spent a night apart from her son — was not allowed to see Adam for almost eight weeks while the custody case was decided.
She suffered a constant campaign of intimidation: ‘I was followed whenever I went outside and received up to 20 phone calls a day from men claiming to be policemen, ordering me to report to various police stations for questioning.’ Fahad Al Madhaki also filed criminal accusations against her, claiming she had tried to change her son’s Muslim identity and of insulting a Qatari citizen — a charge that can carry a three-month jail sentence.
But when the judgment came at the end of November, it was devastating. ‘It is not allowed for the child to stay with a non-Muslim when reaching this age,’ the court ruled with chilling finality. ‘Henceforth, her right of nurture shall be extinguished.’ Rebecca’s own conversion to Islam before Adam’s birth counted for nothing. A later hearing ruled that Rebecca would be allowed to see her son only twice a week, and never unsupervised.
Adam, then ten, was dressed in the long, flowing white robe of an Arabic man and was addressed as Fawaz by his relatives. ‘He told me he wasn’t allowed outside and said they had built a wall and giant gates around the house so he couldn’t get out. ‘He was begging me, saying: “I want to come home, I hate it here,” and it broke my heart that I couldn’t take him with me.
In secret video messages recorded during his 20 months of captivity, Adam speaks of his fear of his uncle and claims he has been punched and kicked by other family members.
In her desperation to be reunited with Adam, Rebecca has even offered to move permanently to Qatar and live with him there. She and Adam have also offered to sign away any claim to his £1 million inheritance, but the Al Madhaki family has not relented. Nor would they discuss the case when contacted by the Daily Mail this week.