October 29, 2020 In the News

‘We’re with you’: Fakhoury family thanks Shaheen

Foster’s Daily Democrat
By Kyle Stucker
October 29, 2020

DOVER — Tears and gratitude flowed freely Thursday as Amer Fakhoury’s family and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen met in person for the first time since the New Hampshire Democrat helped free Amer from Lebanese detainment back in March.

Shaheen, of Madbury, visited the family’s recently reopened Little Lebanon To Go restaurant during a busy day of reelection campaigning.

For the Fakhoury family, it served as a chance to say thanks. The family said it also served as a way to celebrate New Hampshire’s constituency service, particularly at a time in which they say their experiences with corruption in Lebanon and partisan election mudslinging here at home can make it tough to trust that politicians are truly working in the public’s best interests.

“You were with us from Day 1, and we appreciate all the effort you made. You did a lot for my family and we will not forget that all our life,” Michelle Fakhoury, Amer’s wife, tearfully told Shaheen shortly after the senator arrived. “So, we’re with you. We support you, now and forever.”

Shaheen filed the bipartisan legislation that threatened sanctions against the people and officials involved in detaining Amer Fakhoury in his native Lebanon between September 2019 and March 2020. The Fakhoury family has credited Shaheen’s legislation and advocacy as playing a vital role in ending Amer’s six-month detainment and getting his charges dismissed.

“I’m telling you, you are the hero of my family,” Taghrid Elias, Michelle Fakhoury’s sister, said while crying. “All my family in Lebanon, like they said, ‘If we could vote, we would vote for her.’ All of them, they read everything you put and they appreciate everything and say, ’This woman is so strong.’ Yes, you are so strong. Thank you so much.”

In response, Shaheen expressed remorse it took six months to free Amer, a prominent figure in the Dover community and local Republican Party efforts.

Amer lost 80 pounds and developed Stage 4 lymphoma due to torture and mistreatment he endured during his detainment. He died due to that cancer on Aug. 17, five months after returning home. He was 57.

“I wish we could’ve acted sooner, but we will keep at it,” said Shaheen, later stating Amer’s torture was “not fair” and that Lebanon “bears responsibility for what happened.”

One of the ways Shaheen said she’ll continue advocating for Americans like Amer is by working with the Fakhoury family’s new memorial Amer Fakhoury Foundation, which aims to help families of Americans held hostage overseas and advocate for reforms.

“We need to make sure for families that are going through this that there is support there,” said Shaheen, who raved about Little Lebanon To Go’s grape leaves and purchased takeout for her and her husband Bill during her visit. “I think the foundation is a great idea because we have not done a very good job as the United States government in providing supports for families.”

One month into the foundation, Amer and Michelle’s adult daughters Guila, Amanda, Macy and Zoya have raised thousands of dollars as they begin efforts to connect with families in need.

The foundation and the restaurant, which they reopened Oct. 20, are among the ways they’re attempting to carry forward their father’s legacy and use his death to make a positive difference.

“My dad’s death has to mean something,” said Guila Fakhoury. “Something good has to come out of it. He didn’t do anything wrong and we lost a great guy — an amazing guy — and a loving husband.”