MINOT, N.D. (KXNET) — During a trek to travel to all 195 countries, a Missouri native was arrested and accused of espionage and spent two months in the brutal Syrian prison system
The U.S. government, foreign officials, and his friends and family made a heroic and successful attempt to bring him home.
Sam Goodwin joined a Minot Women Connect seminar to share his story of resilience.
While on a worldwide journey in his 181st country, Sam Goodwin was stopped on the street and thrown into the back of a military truck at the hands of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The officers took him to an airport where he was handcuffed, blindfolded, and flown to a Syrian intelligence prison.
“They escorted me to a cell in the back of the basement. And when he put me in there, he went to the inside of the cell door and he said, food, water, toilet, knock. Otherwise, quiet, no talking,” said Sam Goodwin.
As days turned into weeks, and weeks into months, he questioned what the outcome of this hostage situation would be.
After 27 days in solitary confinement, he was transferred to an official prison in the capital city.
Goodwin said, “Every day I would hear the sounds of inmates in neighboring cells being beaten and whipped and tortured. Of course, I could not help but wonder, when was my turn? I realized I was in an environment where nothing was off limits.”
There he made friends with other prisoners, little did he know those new friends would play a key role in his rescue.
His parents had gone to the FBI after not hearing from him for weeks, but it was a secret note to his dad that was smuggled out of prison by an inmate that verified he was still alive and needed rescue.
“On July 26, 2019, one of the officials came to the cell I was in, and he called my name and he indicated that I was being moved. As he escorted me to the front of the prison he stopped and he said, Sam, you are very lucky. President Assad has agreed to release you,” explained Goodwin.
Through secret international negotiations between the US, Lebanon Internal Security, and Syria, Goodwin was reunited with his family after nine weeks of imprisonment.
“Despite everything that had happened, my original curiosity about the world had really never been stronger. When I first came home, my family pretty much shackled me to the kitchen table and some of my siblings wanted to throw away my passport and never let me go anywhere again. But that eased and towards the end of 2019 I set out to finish my travel journey that I had started many years earlier,” said Goodwin.
He says he relied on his mental toughness, his will to survive, and his faith in God to get him through his captivity.
He is now known as the only man in history to have been released from Syrian imprisonment.
Goodwin has since accomplished his initial journey of traveling to every country in the world.