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Reporting Nadia's abduction

How this series was reported
Monday, August 7, 2006 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 1:35 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

To report the story of Maureen Dabbagh, the abduction of her daughter, Nadia, and Maureen’s experiences as a child recovery agent, The Associated Press conducted scores of interviews during the past two years, speaking with current and former recovery agents, representatives of missing children’s organizations, lawyers, other parents of internationally abducted children, and retired members of law enforcement.

Specific sources for today’s installment of the four-part series:

  • The description of Dabbagh’s meeting with Mitchell Rogovin, his recovery agents and Bill Colby comes from multiple, extensive interviews with Maureen and another individual who attended the meeting who spoke only on condition of anonymity. Rogovin died in February 1996; Colby died in April of that same year.
  • Information about the incidence of international child abduction, number of child kidnapping cases in the United States, and the cost and risks involved in hiring a child recovery agent, come from the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Center for Missing and Exploited Children, interviews with Maureen Dabbagh and two other child recovery agents, who offered background information on condition they not be identified.
  • Details of the Dabbaghs’ marital troubles, and their custody dispute over Nadia came from interviews with Maureen Dabbagh, court records in Medina County, Ohio, and now retired Judge Judith Cross, who presided over the case.
  • Information on Hisham Dabbagh’s sudden disappearance comes from interviews with Maureen Dabbagh, records of the Palm Beach County sheriff’s department, Interpol, and records that police later found at the abandoned apartment of Hisham Dabbagh, in West Palm Beach, Fla.
  • Details about the difficulties of launching a manhunt for Hisham Dabbagh come from interviews with Maureen Dabbagh, retired Interpol special agent James Prietsch, Interpol records, State Department records, Medina County court records, facsimiles from Rogovin to Maureen Dabbagh, and correspondences from Medina County, Ohio, officials to Maureen Dabbagh.
  • Information on Maureen Dabbagh’s efforts to reunite left-behind parents with their abducted children and her efforts to push authorities to find her own ex-husband and her daughter come from interviews with Maureen Dabbagh, other left-behind parents and recovery agents who attended PARENT conferences in Washington, D.C., including David Thelen, chief executive officer for The Committee for Missing Children, left-behind parent Margaret McClain, and Thomas R. Conner, a Houston lawyer who specializes in family law.
  • Passages about how Rogovin arranged for Maureen’s legal counsel in Syria, and details on her child custody case before the Islamic Court of Damascus come from correspondence between Rogovin and Maureen Dabbagh, lawyer Mounir Al-Amoudi and Maureen Dabbagh, U.S. embassy communications, State Department records, Interpol cables, and interviews with Maureen Dabbagh.
  • The description of Maureen Dabbagh’s relationship with the U.S. State Department’s Office for Children’s Issues came from interviews with Maureen Dabbagh, and a review of State Department memos obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.
  • The description of Maureen Dabbagh’s life while growing up in Florida, her change of personality following Nadia’s abduction, and her anxiety over the lack of progress in finding her ex-husband and daughter come from multiple interviews with Maureen Dabbagh and her relatives.
  • Information on the recovery of the Louisiana mother and her two children from Syria comes from interviews with Maureen Dabbagh and U.S. press reports.
  • Details on Maureen Dabbagh’s training to become a recovery agent come from multiple interviews with her.

For all installments of the series, relevant reports from newspapers and Web sites, mostly from 1992 forward, were reviewed as a check against the recollections of those interviewed. They included stories in Ohio, Virginia, New York and Florida newspapers, and photo essays, articles and blogs posted on the Web sites of individuals and non-profit organizations.


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