American tourist captured by Syrian regime on world trip is freed

Sam Goodwin was arrested in Qamishli on northeast Syria in late May – Twitter

An American traveller arrested by Syrian government forces while completing a “round the world tour” has been released following negotiations.

Sam Goodwin, 30, from Missouri, had been walking around the Kurdish-held northeastern Syrian city of Qamishli on Saturday, May 27, when he is understood to have been apprehended by regime troops.

The Christian travel blogger was trying to travel to every country in the world and only had 10 of 193 left.

Searching4Sam.com, he describes himself as “an American expat, entrepreneur, former Division I athlete and world traveler.”” data-reactid=”20″>On his website, Searching4Sam.com, he describes himself as “an American expat, entrepreneur, former Division I athlete and world traveler.”

Queenstown, tracking white rhinos on foot in Swaziland, ringing in New Years on a party boat in Iran, running with the bulls in Pamplona and coaching North Korea’s National Hockey Team."” data-reactid=”21″>The Niagara University graduate wrote: “Some unique memories from around the globe include paragliding over Queenstown, tracking white rhinos on foot in Swaziland, ringing in New Years on a party boat in Iran, running with the bulls in Pamplona and coaching North Korea’s National Hockey Team.”

Sam Goodwin, 30, was travelling the world when he was arrested by the Syrian government Credit: Handout

After failing to get a visa from the government, he entered through a border controlled by the Kurdish People’s Protection Unit (YPG) militia, local sources told the Telegraph.

Ignoring advice, he wandered the streets the day he arrived and was believed to have been stopped by regime soldiers. According to a friend, he had only planned to stay for three days and was hoping to attend a Mass service at a church in Qamishli on the Sunday.

While the city, the largest in the autonomous Kurdish region, is under the control of the YPG, the regime mans checkpoints dotted around.

Mr Goodwin was released back to his family this week after nearly two months in detention.

A Lebanese security official revealed on Friday that Beirut managed to mediate the release with the Syrian government.

The northeastern Syrian city is under the control of the Kurds Credit: Sam Tarling for the Telegraph

“Lebanon has worked on mediating through General Abbas Ibrahim to release an American and he was handed over to his family already,” the official said.

Mr Goodwin’s parents, Thomas and Ann, said in a statement released on Friday: “Sam is healthy and with his family. We are forever indebted to General Abbas Ibrahim and to all others who helped secure the release of our son. We will have more to say at a later date.”

The Syrian government considers anyone entering the country without a visa to have entered illegally. 

The US government warns citizens against any travel to Syria. Several US citizens have been held in Syria since the war began there in 2011, including journalists and aid workers held by jihadist groups such as Islamic State.

Austin Tice, a journalist who disappeared in Syria while working for the Washington Post in 2012, is believed to be being held by the regime.

Layla Shweikani, an American-Syrian humanitarian worker, was arrested by government forces in February 2016. She later died in a regime-held prison, some claim of torture. 

Last year the family of another American, clinical psychologist Majd Kamalmaz, told the Wall Street Journal that he had disappeared at a government checkpoint in Damascus in 2017. He has not been heard from since.