- Tanya Borg last saw her two daughters three years ago just before they were abducted by Mohammed El Zubaidy and taken to his original homeland, Libya
- El Zubaidy was jailed for a year for failing to return the girls as per court order
- Ms Borg, 38, has revealed how she fears her daughters are being forced to live a strict Muslim existence with little or no freedom or education
A heartbroken mother has spoken of her torment for the first time after her children were snatched by her husband and taken to war-torn Libya to stop them leading a Western lifestyle.
Tanya Borg last saw her two daughters three years ago just before they were abducted by Mohammed El Zubaidy and taken to his original homeland.
El Zubaidy, who came back to the UK and was jailed for 12 months in March for failing to comply with a court order to return the girls, told her ‘he would rather go to prison’ than bring his daughters back to Britain, she claims. Despite a long legal struggle, the girls – now aged six and 18 – remain with his family in the Libyan capital, Tripoli.
Now, speaking exclusively to The Mail on Sunday, Ms Borg, 38, has revealed how she fears her daughters are being forced to live a strict Muslim existence with little or no freedom or education, hardly leaving the decaying flat they share with her mother-in-law in a country where there is little rule of law.
Tanya Borg in 2011 with her husband Mohammed Elzubaidy and their children
She said: ‘It has broken me. I’ve got no idea how much danger the girls are in. They have probably been in a house for three years and haven’t been anywhere. I just want help to get my children home.’
Ms Borg first met El Zubaidy when she was 18 in Malta, where the pair were living and working. She is half-Maltese on her father’s side. They were married in 2000.
Before the abduction, Ms Borg and 39-year-old El Zubaidy lived a comfortable life in Pewsey, Wiltshire. They had three children, who cannot be named for legal reasons.
Ms Borg, who chose not to take her husband’s surname, said when the siblings were younger, El Zubaidy was far from a hands-on father. She also added that, despite being Muslim, he was never devout and did not pray or go to any local mosque.
But as the children got older he became increasingly keen for them to live according to Islamic cultural traditions, she said.
In 2012, El Zubaidy took the three siblings to Libya to see his dying father, leaving Ms Borg behind. Then, in a chilling warning of what was to come, he issued an unexpected threat to their mother that he would not bring them home unless they began attending an Islamic school at the weekends.
Ms Borg was not in favour of this form of education, but agreed to the demand for fear he might carry out this terrifying threat.
On his return, El Zubaidy became particularly strict with their eldest daughter, who had now become a teenager. ‘He wouldn’t let her go to a sleepover when she was at an age when she wanted to be with her girlfriends and have a laugh,’ Ms Borg recalls.
‘He banned her from speaking to boys. She started an Instagram account, but he made her delete everything. She would come down with a strappy top and he’d make her go and get changed.
‘He’d say, “You want her dressing like a slut.” She would want to sit in her room listening to music, but he wouldn’t let her have a bit of privacy. I believe he didn’t want her to live a Western lifestyle.’
In contrast, her younger brother was allowed much more freedom and could sit in his room playing computer games.
Despite the increased levels of control being exerted by El Zubaidy, life for the family settled down for some years.
That is until February 2015, when he announced that he wanted to take the children abroad to see his mother, who was apparently staying in Tunisia. As a pre-school teacher, Ms Borg was again forced to remain behind due to her work commitments.
However, without his wife knowing, when El Zubaidy arrived in Tunisia he immediately took his children on the treacherous journey across the border to Libya. Ms Borg then got the phone call that would cause her world to fall apart. ‘I was frantic waiting to hear they had arrived safely and then when Mohammed finally called, he said, “I’m in Libya at my mum’s.”
‘I knew as soon as he said he was in Libya that he wasn’t bringing the children back.’
In 2016, Ms Borg managed to get her husband to come back to Britain with their son by making a false promise that she would sign over custody of all three children to him.
She then took the opportunity to obtain a High Court order for him to return her daughters, which El Zubaidy made little effort to comply with – leading him to be given two consecutive jail terms within the last nine months. Ms Borg has had no contact with her daughters since March 2017, when she had a brief conversation with her eldest, telling her how desperately she missed her.
The mother-of-three has made numerous requests to the Foreign Office for assistance to get the girls out of Libya. But the British Embassy in Libya closed in 2015 as the country descended into civil war and saw an expansion from IS following the downfall of the country’s long-time leader, Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
Ms Borg now believes her only hope of getting her daughters back is if she puts her own life at potential risk and goes to Libya herself.
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