Kosovo frees 8-year-old from Syria captivity

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon

15 PHOTOS
Kosovo 8-year-old
See Gallery
Kosovo frees 8-year-old from Syria captivity
ALTERNATIVE CROP OF PRI116 - Erion Zena an 8 year old boy hugs his mother Pranvera Abazi during their reunion at Kosovo's main airport upon his return to Kosovo's capital Pristina on Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014. Kosovo's Prime Minister says the country's intelligence and security forces have returned an 8-year-old ethnic Albanian boy to his mother in Kosovo after he was taken by his jihadi father to Syria. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
Pranvera Abazi holds her son Erion Zena during their reunion at Kosovo's main airport upon his return to Kosovo's capital Pristina on Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014. Kosovo's Prime Minister says the country's intelligence and security forces have returned an 8-year-old ethnic Albanian boy to his mother in Kosovo after he was taken by his jihadi father to Syria. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
Pranvera Abazi and her son Erion Zena , rescued from Syria, leave Kosovo's main airport, after his return to Kosovo's capital Pristina on Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014. Kosovo's Prime Minister says the country's intelligence and security forces have returned an 8-year-old ethnic Albanian boy to his mother in Kosovo after he was taken by his jihadi father to Syria. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
Erion Zena an 8 year old boy looks at his mother Pranvera Abazi during their reunion at Kosovo's main airport upon his return to Kosovo's capital Pristina on Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014. Kosovo's Prime Minister says the country's intelligence and security forces have returned an 8-year-old ethnic Albanian boy to his mother in Kosovo after he was taken by his jihadi father to Syria. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
Pranvera Abazi holds her son Erion Zena during their reunion at Kosovo's main airport, upon his return to Kosovo's capital Pristina on Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014. Kosovo's Prime Minister says the country's intelligence and security forces have returned an 8-year-old ethnic Albanian boy to his mother in Kosovo after he was taken by his jihadi father to Syria. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
Erion Zena an 8 year old boy hugs his mother Pranvera Abazi during their reunion at Kosovo's main airport upon his return to Kosovo's capital Pristina on Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014. Kosovo's Prime Minister says the country's intelligence and security forces have returned an 8-year-old ethnic Albanian boy to his mother in Kosovo after he was taken by his jihadi father to Syria. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
Pranvera Abazi kisses her son Erion Zena during their reunion at Kosovo's main airport upon his return to Kosovo's capital Pristina on Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014. Kosovo's Prime Minister says the country's intelligence and security forces have returned an 8-year-old ethnic Albanian boy to his mother in Kosovo after he was taken by his jihadi father to Syria. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
Pranvera Abazi hugs her son Erion Zena during their reunion at Kosovo's main airport upon his return to Kosovo's capital Pristina on Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014. Kosovo's Prime Minister says the country's intelligence and security forces have returned an 8-year-old ethnic Albanian boy to his mother in Kosovo after he was taken by his jihadi father to Syria. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
Erion Zena an 8 year old boy looks at his mother Pranvera Abazi during their reunion at Kosovo's main airport upon his return to Kosovo's capital Pristina on Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014. Kosovo's Prime Minister says the country's intelligence and security forces have returned an 8-year-old ethnic Albanian boy to his mother in Kosovo after he was taken by his jihadi father to Syria. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
Pranvera Abazi looks at her her son Erion Zena during their reunion at Kosovo's main airport upon his return to Kosovo's capital Pristina on Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014. Kosovo's Prime Minister says the country's intelligence and security forces have returned an 8-year-old ethnic Albanian boy to his mother in Kosovo after he was taken by his jihadi father to Syria. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
Pranvera Abazi kisses her son Erion Zena during their reunion at Kosovo's main airport upon his return to Kosovo's capital Pristina on Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014. Kosovo's Prime Minister says the country's intelligence and security forces have returned an 8-year-old ethnic Albanian boy to his mother in Kosovo after he was taken by his jihadi father to Syria. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
Pranvera Abazi kisses her son Erion Zena during their reunion at Kosovo's main airport upon his return to Kosovo's capital Pristina on Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014. Kosovo's Prime Minister says the country's intelligence and security forces have returned an 8-year-old ethnic Albanian boy to his mother in Kosovo after he was taken by his jihadi father to Syria. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
Erion Zena an 8 year old boy sits on his mother Pranvera Abazi lap during their reunion at Kosovo's main airport upon his return to Kosovo's capital Pristina on Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014. Erion Zena was rescued from Syria by Kosovo Intelligence Agency in an operation authorized by Kosovo President returned home safe and unharmed after being abducted by his father five months ago who is suspected of joining terrorist group IS. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
Erion Zena an 8 year old boy shows his mother Pranvera Abazi toys he brought back during their reunion at Kosovo's main airport upon his return to Kosovo's capital Pristina on Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014. Erion Zena was rescued from Syria by Kosovo Intelligence Agency in an operation authorized by Kosovo President returned home safe and unharmed after being abducted by his father five months ago who is suspected of joining terrorist group IS. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

SLATINA, Kosovo (AP) -- An 8-year-old boy from Kosovo was reunited with his mother late on Wednesday after intelligence and security forces brought him back from Syria where he was taken by his jihadi father and kept for 5 months, officials said.

Kosovo's Prime Minister Hashim Thaci said in a statement that Kosovo's Intelligence Agency "successfully located, found and returned" Erion Zena to Kosovo. He said the operation was "complicated and dangerous," but didn't give any further details. It was authorized by Thaci and the country's President Atifete Jahjaga.

An Associated Press reporter witnessed when the boy was ushered into a waiting room at Pristina's international airport by two men in civilian clothes where his mother Pranvera Zena waited.

"It feels like a dream," Pranvera Zena told the AP minutes after the reunion. "It feels as if I am waking up and I fear he's still not there."

The boy appeared confused as his mother approached him and hugged him. He then sat on her lap and showed her his toy soldiers and a toy tank, as she caressed him and tried to hold back her tears.

The boy was taken to Syria in June 2014 by his father Arben Zena against his mother's will. The case received wide attention in Kosovo after the boy's mother made a public appeal to her husband to return her son. A Facebook page was also opened in support of Pranvera Zena and she made appearances in Kosovo and Albania from where a growing number of youths have joined Islamic radicals in Iraq and Syria.

Hundreds of Kosovo Albanians have joined the ranks of Islamic militants in Syria and Iraq in recent years.

Kosovo is secular but its population of some 1.8 million is overwhelmingly Muslim.


Also on AOL.com:
US readiness questioned after Ebola infections
Prolific actress Elizabeth Pena dies at 55
Neil Patrick Harris confirms his next big gig

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners