Syrian arrested after months trapped in Malaysia airport

Syrian man living the real life ‘The Terminal’ after being stranded in a Malaysian airport for seven months will now be deported back to Assad’s brutal regime which he tried to flee

  • Hassan al-Kontar, 36, was arrested yesterday in Kuala Lumpur airport where he has been since March 7, living off donated airline meals and showering in a toilet
  • He left Syria after refusing to serve for government forces during the civil war 
  • He was refused entry into Cambodia and reentry into Malaysia due to visa issues
  • Officials said his arrest was because his Twitter posts had embarrassed Malaysia

A Syrian man has been arrested after almost seven months stranded in a Malaysian airport, after a bizarre saga that drew comparisons with hit movie ‘The Terminal’.

Hassan al-Kontar had been stuck at the budget terminal of Kuala Lumpur International Airport since March 7, when officials refused to let him board a flight to Ecuador.

Kontar, reportedly sought by authorities in his homeland for failing to serve in the military, was also refused entry into Cambodia and not allowed back into Malaysia due to visa issues.

Hassan al-Kontar, 36, has been arrested at Kuala Lumpur International Airport where he has been living since March 7, after his social media posts attracted too much international attention

‘(He) was arrested yesterday because he was in a restricted area without a boarding pass,’ Malaysian immigration chief Mustafar Ali said, adding that officials would now attempt to deport him to his native Syria

The 36-year-old was left stranded in the terminal, surviving on chicken and rice meals donated by AirAsia and the occasional McDonald’s burger, and showering in a disabled toilet.

He made repeated appeals in a series of YouTube videos, lamenting that rights groups had refused him help and no one would take him in.


  • Syrian man trapped in Kuala Lumpur airport for 37 days…


    ‘I’m going to miss my mother’: Innocent children of Syria…

Share this article

But Malaysian immigration chief Mustafar Ali said Tuesday that police had finally decided to arrest Kontar and remove him from the airport, as his posts, which were garnering growing media attention, had embarrassed Malaysia.

‘His statements on social media shamed Malaysia,’ Ali was cited as saying by official news agency Bernama.

Kontar made repeated appeals in a series of YouTube videos, lamenting that rights groups had refused him help and no one would take him in

‘(He) was arrested yesterday because he was in a restricted area without a boarding pass.’

Officials will now work with the Syrian authorities to get him deported to his homeland, he said.

A civil war has been raging in Syria for the past seven years, leaving more than 350,000 people dead.

Kontar survived on chicken and rice meals donated by AirAsia and the occasional McDonald’s burger, and showered in a disabled toilet

Kontar said in April that there was an arrest warrant for him in Syria since 2011 for dodging his military service, but he refused to fight even if it meant never leaving the airport

Kontar recently posted a montage of images of his life on Twitter, writing: ‘In hard times, you will discover that what you become during the process is more important than the aim itself. You knew it was hard but you did it hard’

Kontar’s case is reminiscent of the 2004 film ‘The Terminal,’ in which Tom Hanks plays a man who finds himself stuck in a New York airport after his government collapses, rendering his papers useless.  

Kontar was working as a general manager and marketing lead for energy companies in the United Arab Emirates until he was deported in 2016.

The UAE revoked his work permit and visa when the Syrian civil war intensified and he was sent to Malaysia as it was one of few companies to give Syrians a visa on arrival.

A member of the Druze minority from Swaida in Syria, Kontar blamed his situation on racism and took to posting daily videos in Arabic on his Twitter page, where he also posts nostalgic pictures of his family 

However he overstayed a three-month tourist visa and is now blacklisted, meaning he cannot re-enter the country. 

He saved up enough money to fly to Ecuador and seek asylum, but wasn’t allowed to board the flight.

He also flew to Cambodia in the hope of flying to South America from there but was refused entry before being sent back to Kuala Lumpur airport on March 7, where he remained stuck in transit until his arrest yesterday. 

Mr al-Kontar was working as a general manager and marketing lead for energy companies in the United Arab Emirates until he was deported in 2016

Hassan al-Kontar had been stranded in Kuala Lumpur airport since March and living in constant fear he would be forced to fight for Assad’s army

At the time he claimed he was interrogated about his finances by several immigration officers and his passport confiscated.

‘They took my passport. They humiliated me actually – they took a photo of me standing against the wall like a criminal,’ he told the Phnom Penh Post.

Cambodian officials said Syrians could be turned away if they failed to meet ‘requirements’ like having enough money or a return ticket.

‘Anyone can apply for the visa on arrival. But we need to check what their purpose is,’ they said.

A member of the Druze minority from Swaida in Syria, Kontar blamed his situation on racism and took to posting daily videos in Arabic on his Twitter page.


Kontar was working as a general manager and marketing lead for energy companies in the United Arab Emirates until he was deported in 2016 

‘Lonely, weak, unwanted, rejected. No one is accepting us,’ he said of being Syrian.

‘In the end I can’t blame anyone, this is our fate. We caused this problem to ourselves,’ he said of the outbreak of the civil war.

He hasn’t seen his mother, sister, and brother since his last visit to Syria in 2008 and feared he would never seen them again. 

Kontar said in April that there was an arrest warrant for him in Syria since 2011 for dodging his military service, but he refused to fight even if it meant never leaving the airport.

‘I am a human being and I don’t consider it right to participate in war. It was not my decision,’ he said.

Kontar wrote on Twitter: ‘Asking for ur rights as human in this world like: Ringing a bell in Kingdom of silence. lighting a candle in the darkness. throwing a stone into the stagnant water waiting rivers to break out. Living with dignity is not a choice, its a necessity’

Kontar’s case drew comparisions to the 2004 film ‘The Terminal,’ in which Tom Hanks plays a man who finds himself stuck in a New York airport after his government collapses, rendering his papers useless

‘I’m not a killing machine and I don’t want any part in destroying Syria. I don’t want blood on my hands. War is never the solution but unfortunately, even from where I am now, I am paying the price of its actions.’  

He told the BBC five months ago: ‘I’m desperate for help. I can’t live in this airport any longer, the uncertainty is driving me crazy. It feels like my life hit a new low,’ he told the BBC.

‘I don’t know what to do. I have no-one to advise me on where I can go. I really need help because I believe the worst is yet to come.’

Source: Read Full Article