The international media are full of praise for the FBI-led operation which reunited two US mothers with their kidnapped sons. But it is still unclear how the fathers who kidnapped the boys managed to hide in a Dutch asylum seekers' reception centre for so long.
Christian Jeanbart Stackhouse and Zanni Meguerian Kalayejian arrived in Amsterdam on Monday and will most likely fly back to their homes in California this week with their sons Zaven (11), Greg (12) and Alexander (14).
The boys last saw their mothers in 2008 just before they were abducted by their fathers, the brothers John and George Silah. When both couples divorced, the mothers were given custody and the fathers were given visitation rights.
The fathers were supposed to be taking the children on a holiday inside the United States. Instead, they took their sons to Athens and then to the Netherlands. Last week, with the help of Greek and Dutch police, the FBI tracked down the Silah brothers and their children. It turned out they had been living in an asylum seekers' centre in the town of Dronten in Flevoland province.
The fathers are now being held in detention pending the outcome of an extradition request from the United States. The US authorities intend to prosecute John and George Silah for parental abduction and unlawful flight.
Fear of reprisals
It is still not clear how long the Silah brothers and their sons were living in Dronten, although it is known that they entered the country with forged identification. The Public Prosecutor's Office and the justice Ministry in The Hague are not prepared to comment on how they managed to hide in an asylum seekers' reception centre for so long.
The grandparents have also been arrested. US investigators discovered that the two fathers met up with their parents in Athens. It is believed that they were involved in the kidnapping. The grandmother, Lucy Sulahian, is an award-winning author of children's books in her native Syria. The two brothers apparently fled California two years ago for fear of reprisals by the victims of a major fraud in which they were allegedly involved.