Canadian Searches for Sister Lost in Syria

Matthew Vienneau, whose sister disappeared near Hama in March has asked me to post this note he recently sent, asking for any information about his missing sister.

Hello Mr. Landis,

My name is Matthew Vienneau and my sister Nicole disappeared while on a day trip from Hama, Syria back on March 31st. She was staying at the Cairo Hotel and left her belongings in her room – hotel staff have indicated that she was asking about the Beehive Houses and how to get to Qasr Ibn Wardan.

My mother and I have each travelled to Syria and met with officials and visited Hama. My mother met with the Interior Minister, and we both met with the mayor and leaders of Hama. The Syrian police and officials have been very willing to help and volunteers in Syria report back that they are working hard to find Nicole. Unfortunately, we have found no clues.

I have continued to search via the Internet, trying to find leads and reach people who might have met with Nicole during her travels. Our official website is and my personal blog is Our search has been covered extensively in the Canadian and Syrian press, but has not been mentioned in the United States or elsewhere in the world.

I was hoping that you might be able to offer us some advice on how to best continue our search. We seemed to have reached a dead end and we are becoming desperate for any kind of answers or clues. Many have suggested that the police or military may be involved (possibly an accident or random encounter with a lone soldier), and others state emphatically that Syria knows what has happened but refuses to tell us (possibly due to embarrassment, possibly due to bad relations between Syria and Canada). We have no way of investigating these options, and we suspect (hope?) that they are not true – the officials in Syria seemed very sincere in their efforts and concern.

Hopefully Nicole, or at least some hint of what happened to her, will be found soon so my mother can begin the healing process.

Thank you for your time, and if there’s anything you can think of that might help or be worth investigating on our end, it would be greatly appreciated.

Matthew Vienneau

Comments (8)

IsraeliGuy said:

Matthew, first, I will keep my fingers crossed for Nicole and for your family.

Maybe another option worth exploring is hiring a local private detective in Syria, but the Syrians on this blog can be better judges if this idea is good or not.

November 2nd, 2007, 6:42 pm


Roy Harris said:

The Syrian Government probably have her . She might have seen something that she should not have seen.

I would check with the Peoples republic of China as they often buy slave women from that region. Yes Slavery is practiced in this country run by neo- faciest Nazi’s.

November 2nd, 2007, 6:51 pm


Nour said:

I think anyone exploiting this situation to make political scores is despicable. I hope Nicole is found and reunited with her family. I can’t imagine what they must be going through. I will keep Nicole and her family in my thoughts.

November 2nd, 2007, 8:05 pm


annie said:

I had a post on Nicole’s disappearance with her picture on the blog.

Better than private detectives, the moukhabarat; they should have been able to find her if she is still in Syria. But since they have not…

I really feel for that brother. It must be awful.

November 2nd, 2007, 9:37 pm


Jamal said:

I have been following this case through the guy’s sites. It’s been hard to ignore his very articulate and often moving accounts of the various search efforts, fresh theories and emotional struggle.

She was an attractive, conspicuous westerner, a smart and highly experienced traveller who vanished in broad daylight in Syria. She was following a normal tourist agenda, keenly checking out historic sites. Her disappearance is baffling in a country where visitors are so welcome, and watching and taking a busy interest in others affairs is so much part of daily life.

Somebody in Syria knows something all right. But whether it’s the military, the Bedouin, a cover-up road accident, foreign truck drivers, a local den of thieves or whatever, let’s hope it’s not a pointer to how Syria is changing.

Unfortunately the search was slow to start because the Canadian consulate crowd in Damascus appear to have been alarmingly useless, and it was down to other travellers who read his plea on the Internet to go to the hotel in Hama and find his sister’s belongings and get the search going.

His accounts of the warm concern and efforts of the Syrian people when they finally found out about it are reassuring, but it became obvious the Syrian police have zero training or experience in crime investigation, only in secret police type stuff.

The family have offered a reward but took advice to keep it down to $20,000 in case it gave other kidnappers ideas. But they still had the ordeal of some Syrian scamsters in Europe making a false claim.
The notion of private investigators has been explored, but the industry doesn’t exist in Syria and anyone who tries it freelance would risk drawing suspicion on themselves.

I mentioned this search in a post on this site a few months ago. I’m glad it’s getting a bigger run on Syriacomment mainly because someone reading it here might have some ideas that can keep the search going. But also because the situation and his blog provides a compelling glimpse inside Syria.

November 2nd, 2007, 9:59 pm


fadal said:

i have made a comment about this earlier. If THEY want to find her, THEY simply CAN. BUT i think there is something big beyond that. if it was an accident or alike, her body would have been found by now.

I have a feeling there is a missing link. where is she? the most innocent explanantion is that there is a criminal gang operating there with experience to hid her body or even her alive.

since i heard of this story i keep thinking about it…i do not know why…maybe when i visit syria i will carry out my own search.

feel sorry for the family

November 3rd, 2007, 9:28 am


Muwaten said:

It’s very well known that any foreigner enter Syria will be under watch by the secret police. I can’t believe that the Syrian intelligent agency doesn’t know where is Nicole !

November 4th, 2007, 4:41 am


canada1 said:

when will you be visiting Syria?

November 6th, 2007, 12:09 am


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