Toronto Star

Sep. 30, 06:33 EDT

Girl abducted to Iran amid breakup

Day at Wonderland with father became flight out of Canada

Dale Anne Freed
Staff Reporter
Toronto Star


FATHER AND DAUGHTER: Abdul Nakhlestani and Kiana, 5, in a family photo taken some time before the pair boarded a KLM jet for Amsterdam and another flight to Iran.

Lucas Oleniuk/Toronto Star
A shaken Mitra Basry-Attar recalls telling her daughter Kiana, `Mommy loves you,' as she left for what was supposed to be a fun day at a theme park with her father, Abdul Nakhlestani.

Police want to know how a Scarborough man abducted his daughter and managed to board a plane to take her out of Canada to Iran without written approval from his wife.

At 6:42 p.m. Saturday, landed immigrant Abdul Nakhlestani, 41, and his 5-year-old daughter, Kiana, left Pearson airport on a KLM jet for Amsterdam, where they connected on a flight to Iran, said Toronto police Detective Glen Cecile.

"As we speak ... the father and daughter are in Iran by now," Cecile said late yesterday afternoon. He said the RCMP are talking with the airline about how Nakhlestani was able to board without the legally required permission from the other parent.

The girl's mother denied giving him permission or signing anything, Cecile said.

"Please bring her back to Canada," said a sobbing Mitra Basry-Attar. "That is my message to my husband," she told a Star reporter at her Scarborough apartment, between constant calls from family in Iran.

"They are phoning to give me advice: Stay strong."

Basry-Attar said her husband abducted the girl because Basry-Attar was planning to divorce him.

"I told him that two weeks ago," she said.

"I never thought he would do this," said Basry-Attar, also a landed immigrant, who came to Canada almost 2 1/2 years ago with her husband, their daughter and her husband's son Arash, 16, by his first marriage.

Basry-Attar last saw her daughter on Saturday when, carrying her Barbie backpack, an excited Kiana left for what was to be a day at Canada's Wonderland with her dad and Arash. Nakhlestani dropped his son off at the Main St. subway station and said he was taking his daughter to buy her a toy. Neither he nor Kiana returned.

"I hugged her and said, `Mommy loves you.' That's the last thing I said," Basry-Attar said, sobbing.

Basry-Attar, who works as a health-care aid at Mount Sinai Hospital, said she lived a very repressive life under Nakhlestani, who she said once worked for Iranian army intelligence and became her husband through an arranged marriage.

"We had fights," she said.

"When we lived in Iran he made me wear a chador," a long black robe that covers the body head to toe. But in Canada, where he worked delivering phone books for Bell Canada, he settled for her wearing a hijab, the scarf worn by many Muslim women that covers the neck and shoulders, she said.

"I took it off for the first time today."

Yesterday at dawn, Nakhlestani phoned his wife's best friend, Fariba Nazari, who lives in a nearby Scarborough apartment.

He said he was in Amsterdam with his daughter and that he left some money in his wife's account; that it was up to her if she stayed in Canada or went to Iran, and he'd come back to Toronto for his son as soon as possible, Fariba told The Star.

Police say Nakhlestani recently obtained a new Iranian passport for the child.

"We don't know how he was able to do that," Cecile said.

"Any parent who's going to remove a child in common from the country has to get permission spelled out in a court order or some form of written approval or consent from the other spouse," he said.

"It's no secret we all know what type of government we're dealing with over there (in Iran). I don't expect we're going to have too much co-operation on their end," Cecile said. Authorities will be exploring "all avenues" to get the Iranian government to co-operate, he added.

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