From: Katherine Phillips, Al-Bayan Bilingual
School Middle School Deputy Principal, Kuwait
US Passport Number:
XXXX9279 --- contact ISR if needed.
TO: Whom It May Concern
DATE: June 21, 2007
RE: Detained in Kuwait/In Fear for My Safety
I am a Middle School Vice-Principal at
Al-Bayan Bilingual School in Kuwait. I have been employed in
Kuwait for 6 years at the same
school. One of my primary responsibilities is student discipline.
On March 8, 2006, three boys in grade 5 were suspended for fighting.
I interviewed the boys, met with my principal and followed normal
procedure. There is no stigma here regarding suspension. Students
spend the day in the office where they study, are visited by teachers,
and are taken to the canteen, etc. It’s a normal consequence
for fighting; all students are aware of this and the procedure
is clearly defined in our Parent Handbook.
In the afternoon of March 8th, I received
a phone call from one of the boys’ fathers, Mr. Fawaz Khalid Al Marzouq, who is
a powerful man in Kuwait. He called to inform me that this situation
was “personal,” that
he is “friends with the emir” and that he planned to “destroy” me.
This conversation, which lasted about 9 minutes, was littered with
profanities and threats.
On March 11, 2006, the parents met with me, my principal and our
director, Dr. Brian McCauley, to discuss the suspension. The father
requested that if there was an issue involving his child that I
would call him immediately.
On April 27, 2006, I was requested to write a synopsis of events
and to visit the Ministry of Education to answer questions regarding
the suspension, describe the room in which the boys spent the school
day and provide a copy of our handbook.
In June 2006, the father transferred his children to a different
private school in Kuwait. Also, we received notification from the
Ministry of Education that in-school suspensions were no longer
to be applied; instead, parents must be contacted to take their
In February 2007, I learned that a case
had been filed against me at the Jabriya Police Department in
Kuwait; the charge was “illegal
detainment” of his son on March 8, 2006. I answered questions
in my director’s presence and the Consul from the US Embassy,
Mr. Sonny Busa. My lawyer was also present. The police did not
suggest that there was any reason for me to be concerned as all
of the questions were answered to the apparent satisfaction.
On June 13, 2007, I was at the Kuwait International Airport intending
to fly to Bahrain. I was stopped at immigration where I was informed
that there was a case against me, pending further investigation
and that a travel ban had been placed on me. I had not been informed.
My lawyer had not been informed. This travel ban was placed upon
me 15 months after the boy was suspended. The parent said that
he would make this personal and this seems to be what he is intent
On Saturday, June 16, 2007, I visited the American Embassy where
I met with the Vice Consul, Mr. Jared Caplan, who informed me that
he sympathized but could do nothing to lift the travel ban. He
suggested that I get an older Kuwaiti man to appeal to Mr. Marzouq.
I was told on Wednesday that my file would be transferred to another
agency for review so the ban could be lifted. Five working days
later, the whereabouts of my file are uncertain. I have been told
that my file is in 2 different places; this seems to be a delay
tactic. Why? Because I angered an influential Kuwaiti national
who is at the top of the social register both locally and at the
On I visited the office of a police inspector
named Falah Al Otaibi, whose office is in Salmiya. He is a police
was to evaluate my file and determine if I could leave or not.
He stated that he didn’t have my file. I visited him on June
17th and 18th. On June 18th, not five minutes after I left his
office with my director, the Business Officer of my school and
another school representative, I called Mr. Jared Caplan, Vice-Consul
at the US Embassy to gain his insight into the situation and to
see if any progress had been made to help me leave. He was completely
aware of my visit to Mr. Al Otaibi’s office and instructed
that I not return as it “interfered.”
Several Kuwaiti families are aware of
my situation but they are not in a position to help or they don’t want to get involved.
They have ALL said that I should go to my embassy because my embassy
can help me. The fact that the embassy can’t seems shocking
to everyone. Many people also question why this accusation from
Mr. Marzouk is placed solely on me – not the school, not
the principal, not the director of school. I feel that I am being
used as an example because I am a single, American woman and he
wants to show others that he can do what he said which is to “destroy” me.
Yesterday, June 20, 2007, I received a
paper from Mr. Al Otaibi’s
office in Salmiya which lifted the travel ban. This waiver had
been granted by the Kuwait Minister of the Interior. Not long after
the Minister released me, he reverted his decision at the request
of the Marzouq family or his representatives. I went to the airport
last night, only to learn that I couldn’t leave.
I am in fear for my safety. If the Embassy
can’t help me,
then who can? I contacted the FBI in Riyad, Saudi Arabia yesterday
and talked to “Mike” who couldn’t give me his
last name. He was non-committal but did suggest that he thought
the embassy should be able to get me out.
Mr. Sonny Busa has informed me that they
are “working on
it.” That seems a little vague and I am not sure if the US
Embassy completely realizes the level of danger that I feel that
I am in. Why does Mr. Marzouq want me in Kuwait during the summer
when no one from my school will be in country to offer their support?
To make me feel vulnerable? He is well-connected and his friends
are supporting his mission to damage me in any way that he can.
I do not feel safe. I am not safe. I need
someone from the US to acknowledge the urgency of my situation
and coordinate my release.
I committed no crime. I am simply the victim of “wasta” which
roughly translates into “influence/pressure” at a high
My mobile phone number is: 965-6298331