Our Story At-A-Glance

  • Ashraf arrested

    Ashraf arrested
    Ashraf Al-Jailani arrested in Akron, Ohio and jailed for domestic violence, violating a protection order, and suspicion of being an al-qaeda operative. Jailed for 3.5 years in York, Pennsylvania.
  • Ashraf released from jail, deported to Yemen

    Ashraf released from jail, deported to Yemen
    After spending nearly 4 years in jail, Ashraf was released and deported to his home country of Yemen
  • Michele and kids go to Yemen

    Michele takes Amina, Layla, and Sami to Yemen to see their father after 6 months of daily assurances and pleadings from Ashraf. He assured that he just wanted to “see them” and wasn’t interested in trying to keep them. Upon arriving in Yemen, Ashraf hits the children on the first day he’s seen them in over 4 years. Michele declares decision to take children back to America. That night, while sleeping, Ashraf takes and hides children’s passports. Children are not permitted to leave Yemen.
  • Michele goes to USA

    Michele goes to USA
    Ashraf convinces Michele that, if she returns to America and gets an apartment, children will be allowed to go home to America at the end for the summer before school starts. Michele returns to USA alone, gets job and apartment.
  • Michele buys ticket to bring children home for school in the fall

    Michele buys ticket to bring children home for school in the fall
    Michele buys plane ticket to return to Yemen and bring kids home on return flight scheduled for Aug. 30, 2006. She tells Ashraf, Ashraf responds, saying that the children will NEVER leave Yemen. Michele tries to get help from State Dept., FBI, and NCMEC. Federal arrest warrant is issued against Ashraf for kidnapping and violating a custody order. Michele flies to Yemen to convince Ashraf to honor his promise to let the children come home.
  • Michele goes to Yemen to get kids anyway

  • Forbidden to leave Yemen

    Ashraf is more violent than ever toward Michele and children (in Yemen). He is adament that children will never leave Yemen, and he demands that Michele leave his house. He calls the Yemen military police and the US Embassy to make Michele leave his house, then later recants and secretly puts travel ban on Michele, as well, so neither Michele nor children can leave Yemen.
  • Michele fights to leave Yemen to see dying father

    Michele fights to leave Yemen to see dying father
    Michele receives email that father is dying in Ohio and has maybe a week to live. Ashraf refuses to lift travel ban for Michele to return to States. Ashraf leaves house to visit a friend, Michele takes children and runs to American Embassy for help. After 9-hour meeting with Embassy and Yemeni officials, Ashraf agrees to let Michele return to US to see her father.
  • Michele's father dies

    Michele’s father dies in Ohio. Michele got to his room an hour before he died, but he was not coherent, so they did not get to say goodbye to each other.
  • Michele launches letter-writing campaign to find help

    Michele writes to all local and national media, talk shows, etc. Fox 8 Cleveland does a news story. No one else interested.
  • Michele tries to find help

    Unable to find help anywhere, Michele meets with mercenary who says he will get kids back. Michele gives him several thousand dollars (everything she had). “Mercenary” takes money and disappears. Meets with local congressman and senators. No help there.
  • Michele launches 1000 letter-writing campaign

    Michele mails out 1000 to wealthy people asking for help. Not one response from mailings. Michele receives some money from father’s estate to get children back.
  • High school acquaintence steals money and plane tickets

    Unable to find help and unable to tolerate being without children, Michele buys plane ticket to Yemen to try to just get along with Ashraf so she can be near children. Two weeks later, previous friend shows up at house, needing a place to stay. While Michele was outside, "friend" broke open safe, stole the plane tickets and all the money ($9000), all jewelry, and vandalizes Michele’s van, then takes off to Oregon. Police won’t do anything. Michele is left with no plane ticket (non-refundable
  • Michele goes to Yemen to try to live there to be near children

    Michele sells everything she can in house, buys plane ticket, goes to Yemen to try to live with children. Upon arrival, she sees children getting beaten daily, and she gets beaten daily. All efforts to intervene for children fail. He has all the power and backup he needs in Yemen to do whatever he wants without any consequences.
  • Can't take violence; Michele runs to Embassy for help

    Can't take violence; Michele runs to Embassy for help
    Unable to take the beatings, or watch children get beaten and live in sheer terror, Michele grabs children, hide out for a week, then runs to embassy for help getting out of country. Embassy refuses help and drives children back to Ashraf’s house. Michele returns to USA to try to get help and find a better plan.
  • Grabs kids, tries to cros red sea on inflatable boat

    Michele realizes that there is no help anywhere. No media outlet will give the children a voice or tell their story. Ashraf has threatened to kill her if she returns to Yemen. Michele studies gooogle earth maps, finds a point called Bab al-Mandeb which appears to be only 20 or so miles from Djibouti. Michele sells everything, buys 14-foot inflatable sailboat, changes name, flies back to Yemen through distant airport, gets back to Sanaa, grabs kids and gets to Red Sea
  • Still fighting

    Michele and the children are still fighting to be together in America. Options are very limited at this point.