While the Syrian civil war was in its early stages in 2012, a freelance photojournalist named Matt Schrier decided to personally document the historical event. He gathered his cameras and gear and traveled to the war-torn region, ultimately ending up in Aleppo where he briefly embedded himself with a rebel group.
However, as he prepared to leave Syria to return to the United States by way of Turkey, he was ambushed and kidnapped by members of the Al Qaeda affiliated jihadist group Jabhat al-Nusra, who held him in tortuous captivity for roughly seven months. Schrier’s imprisonment and eventual escape became a featured episode of the popular National Geographic program “Locked Up Abroad.”
But not all aspects of his imprisonment and captivity, or the aftermath of his escape, were included in that program, as was revealed in a recent interview Schrier conducted with Fox News reporter Catherine Herridge.
The photojournalist revealed how he conducted his own investigation into what had happened to him after he returned to the U.S. and reached the conclusion that he was “betrayed” by the FBI agents who had been handling his case.
During his captivity and subsequent escape in 2013, the FBI was under the leadership of former Directors Robert Mueller and James Comey. Mueller now heads the special counsel investigation into the alleged Russia/Trump campaign involvement and Comey has since been fired by President Donald Trump.
“Not every FBI agent is bad. Some are very good people,” Schrier explained. “But the ones that are bad need to be weeded out. And the ones who let them be bad, and who turn their head, need to be exposed.”
Schrier, who backs up his claims with emails, financial records and copies of formal complaints he filed, alleged that the FBI knew he had been taken captive and did nothing other than exploit his captivity as a means to monitor the terrorist group who held him.
He shared how he was brutally tortured and interrogated by his jihadist captors, who also stole all of his personal information — Social Security number, online passwords, etc. — which were then used to steal his identity and make purchases online, such as laptop computers, tablets, boots and other assorted gear.
Once he returned to the United States, he began to seek answers from the FBI about his kidnapping, but a slew of emailed and faxed questions were stonewalled.
“I never got anything back,” he said.
Since his return, he’s had incredible difficulty in obtaining credit cards or opening bank accounts due to the fact that his identity was stolen and credit ruined by the jihadists. Schrier claims that the FBI agents were aware of and monitoring the illicit transactions made by the terrorists, and knew it wasn’t Schrier making the purchases, yet they have provided no assistance in rectifying the situation.
“You know, what I needed help with was reestablishing a life for myself, which means a new social security number and rebuilding my credit,” he said of the FBI. “You have the Witness Protection Program, you give new social security numbers to murderers and pimps and drug dealers. I’m a witness too and I didn’t do any of that stuff. ‘No — can’t help you.’”
This isn’t the first time Schrier has spoken out about his mistreatment at the hands of the FBI since his return. In 2014, the U.K. Daily Mail reported on an interview Schrier conducted with McClatchyDC in which he alleged that he was forced to reimburse the State Department $1,605 for the cost of his plane ride home from Turkey after his escape.
He also alleged that a psychiatrist assigned to him canceled appointments numerous times, and that he was put up in a hotel for a month before the FBI told him he should move into a homeless shelter. He also noted that the FBI didn’t even inform his family of his captivity until the sixth month, and made minimal or no effort to rescue him or advocate for his return.
“It is like a scam. I don’t understand what they do victims services,” Schrier said at the time. “The FBI has made it impossible for me to recover.”
Fox News reported that a representative for Comey’s book publisher failed to respond to requests for comment, and a representative of Mueller referred all questions to the FBI.
“The FBI’s investigation into the kidnapping of Matthew Schrier remains open, therefore, we are not able to discuss investigative details surrounding this case,” stated a bureau spokesperson. “The FBI works closely with our federal partners not only to ensure that the U.S. Government does all that it can to safely recover Americans taken hostage overseas but to also assist victims who have been defrauded or further abused by a hostage-taker.”
Based on Schrier’s allegations, that statement doesn’t ring true whatsoever.
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