By now, the whole world knows the name and face of Joshua Fattal, the 29-year-old Elkins Park native who spent 26 months in an Iranian prison before being reunited with his family last week in Oman and arriving back on U.S. soil on Sunday.
Josh's father, Jacob Fattal, was born in Iraq and moved to Israel before ultimately settling in the United States. Josh Fattal became a Bar Mitzvah at Rodeph Shalom's suburban campus.
He traveled to Israel several times, the last time just before meeting up with his friends in Syria and going on to Iraqi Kurdistan, where they crossed the border to Iran and were arrested.
Fattal, Shane Bauer and a third individual hiking in Iraqi Kurdistan, Sarah Shourd, were arrested in July 2009 by Iranian guards, after apparently inadvertently straying into Iranian territory. It is still far from clear exactly what transpired that day, whether the threesome had actually entered Iranian territory, whether they had been coaxed over by border guards or some other scenario. The three were charged with spying for the United States and sent to Iran's notorious Evin prison.
Shourd, who was engaged to Bauer in prison, became ill and was released last year on $500,000, given by an anonymous party. Last month, the two remaining hikers were convicted and sentenced to an eight-year prison sentence...(commuted and released on $1 million bail - ed.)
"We applaud the Iranian authorities for finally making the right decision regarding our case. But we want to be clear that they do not deserve undue credit for ending what they had no right and no justification to start in the first place," said Fattal.
While being Jewish was part of who Fattal is, he thinks of himself as a citizen of the world, said Fattal's longtime friend Joe Boxman, noting that his friend was an environmental activist who had traveled around the globe to countries such as India, South Africa, New Zealand, China and the Philippines.