Omar Bin Omran as a teenager before he was kidnapped, pictured with two younger relatives

Man who was kidnapped aged 19 and discovered 26 YEARS later had only been a few minutes’ walk from his family’s home the whole time but never cried out for help because he was convinced his captor had ‘cast a magic spell on him’

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A man who was kidnapped aged 19 and found 26 years later in Algeria over the weekend had only been a few minutes’ walk away from his family the whole time.

But the man – named as Omar Bin Omran – never cried out for help because he was convinced that his captor had cast a magic spell on him, local reports said.

Omar vanished during the decade-long Algerian civil war of 1998, leading his family to assume that he was killed in the conflict between the North African nation’s government and various Islamist rebel groups.

The truth was much closer to home: Now aged 45, he was found amid haystacks in a stable on May 12 – just 200 yards away from his family’s home in the city of Djelfa.

The discovery came after the captor’s brother aired grievances on social media, reportedly due to an inheritance dispute. Reports said the post revealed the identity of the victim and his location, and prompted Omar’s family to storm the residence.

The alleged culprit, a 61-year-old doorman working in the nearby town of El Guedid, was taken into custody after attempting to flee, the Algerian Ministry of Justice said.

Omar Bin Omran as a teenager before he was kidnapped, pictured with two younger relatives

Omar Bin Omran as he climbed out of the hole where he had been kept captive for almost 30 years

Omar Bin Omran as a teenager before he was kidnapped, pictured with two younger relatives (left) and after being found (right)

Footage of Omar being discovered has gone viral on social media. The Arabic caption reads: 'The moment they found him in their neighbour's house'

Footage of Omar being discovered has gone viral on social media. The Arabic caption reads: ‘The moment they found him in their neighbour’s house’

His family is thought to have believed him dead, killed in the Algerian civil war that raged more than 20 years ago. Relatives claim the dog was poisoned after it began smelling Omar's scent close by

His family is thought to have believed him dead, killed in the Algerian civil war that raged more than 20 years ago. Relatives claim the dog was poisoned after it began smelling Omar’s scent close by

The ministry said the investigation was still ongoing, adding that the victim was receiving medical and psychological care after the crime it described as ‘heinous’.

Algerian media reported that the victim said he had been unable to call out for help ‘because of a spell that his captor had cast on him’.

Footage was shared on social media and broadcast on Algerian television networks of the moment that he was found in what appeared to be a hole in the ground, described by authorities as a sheep pen, within the home of his alleged captor. 

The blurry video shows torchlights shining into a pit surrounded by hay as Omar furtively looks up, seemingly in shock at the search party surrounding him, stray pieces of straw in his hair.

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Other images have since been circulated of the bearded man emerging from the hole, thought to be a sheep pen, and of him as a teenager, sitting with a dog and with young children before he disappeared. 

Reports from Algerian newspaper El Khabar suggest the dog pined for him close to the spot where he was being held, having recognised his smell. It was alleged in its report that the captor poisoned the dog to ward the family off. 

A search was launched for Omar in 1998 after he went missing while on his way to a vocational school.

According to the newspaper, the inheritance dispute prompted the family to storm the house in a search for Omar. When they found him, his alleged captor attempted to flee before being restrained and then arrested. 

Tragically, Omar’s mother died in 2013 without ever knowing the truth of what happened to her son. She had made pleas on television for information about what happened to her son, according to Algerian newspaper L’ Expression.

Reports suggest Omar was made aware of his mother’s death while in captivity.

A relative said on Facebook: ‘Thank god my cousin was found. 

‘Bin Imran Omar is in good health after 26 years of disappearance. Awaiting details of the case and investigations.’

Public prosecutors in Djelfa, a mountain city of around 500,000 people about 140 miles south of coastal capital Algiers, say Omar will receive psychological care after being rescued as they vowed to get him justice.

‘The Djelfa Attorney General’s Office informs the public that on May 12 at 8pm local time it found victim Omar B, aged 45, in the case of his neighbour, B.A., aged 61,’ they said in a statement.

A court official in Djelfa was quoted as saying: ‘Two days ago, on May 12, 2024, the Public Prosecutor’s Office received, through the regional department of the National Gendarmerie in El Jadid, a complaint against an anonymous person claiming that the complainant’s brother, Omar Bin Omran, who has been missing for about 30 years, is in the house of one of his neighbours, inside a sheepfold.

‘Following this report the General Prosecutor of the Court of Idrisiya in the province of Djelfa ordered the National Gendarmerie to open an in-depth investigation and officers went to the house in question.

‘The missing person was found and the suspect, the 61-year-old owner of the house was arrested.’

The case of Omar's discovery, almost three decades on from his alleged kidnapping, could mean he is one of the world's longest-held captives

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The case of Omar’s discovery, almost three decades on from his alleged kidnapping, could mean he is one of the world’s longest-held captives

A statement issued by the Algerian Ministry of Justice (pictured) promised that Omar would receive psychological care, and vowed the perpetrator would be tried with 'severity'

A statement issued by the Algerian Ministry of Justice (pictured) promised that Omar would receive psychological care, and vowed the perpetrator would be tried with ‘severity’

Footage shows what locals said was the scene of Omar's discovery in Djelfa, Algeria, lit up by emergency vehicle lights

Footage shows what locals said was the scene of Omar’s discovery in Djelfa, Algeria, lit up by emergency vehicle lights

He added: ‘The Public Prosecutor’s Office ordered that the victim receive medical and psychological treatment, and the suspect will be presented to the Public Prosecutor’s Office immediately after the completion of the investigation.’

Officials have promised the ‘perpetrator of this heinous crime’ will be tried with ‘severity’.

The man held is understood to work as a civil servant and lived alone – but Algerian media suggested he was regularly seen buying enough food for two people.

A neighbour of the abducted man told Algerian TV station Bilad: ‘His poor mum died while he was in captivity, without knowing what had happened to him, without knowing that all this time he was really right beside her.’

A statement from the Algerian Ministry of Justice suggested the victim’s family had been tipped off about Omar’s whereabouts after the alleged captor’s brother aired grievances on social media during an inheritance dispute.

The case may be among the world’s longest-running kidnapping cases. Eleven-year-old Jaycee Dugard was kidnapped in Meyers, California in 1991 and remained missing for more than 18 years after she was captured by Phillip and Nancy Garrido.

Dugard was kept in depraved conditions and was subjected to extreme sexual abuse, having two children by Phillip Garrido, and later said she adapted to sympathising with her captors in order to survive.



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