Syrian-born restaurant owner says he warned lawmakers of extremists in home
Posted on September 6, 2014 17:00 pm CDT
by Emily Wood
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To his customers, Riad Matar is the friendly face of the ever popular restaurant Riad in downtown Springfield. He is known as a talented chef who serves up a mix of American and Mediterranean fare, but there is much more on the mind of Syrian-born Riad Matar.
"Every week more thank 2,000 people die in Syria, badly," Matar said.
A native of Syria, Matar has watched helplessly for the last three years as he says thousands, including his loved ones, are killed by extremists. He said he has contacted lawmakers repeatedly begging for help.
"Over three and a half years ago, I said if we don't nip it in the bud right now, then Syria (is) going (to) turn worse than Afghanistan, and I have been saying that," Matar said.
Matar said his calls have gone unanswered as extremist militant group ISIS has come to the forefront in Iraq, Syria, and Jordan, and innocent people are being shot or beheaded by the hundreds.
"They collect 800 kids between age 16 and about 25. What they did to them? They cut their heads. They put them on the stick," Matar said of a recent mass killing in his home country.
President Barack Obama announced the United States will work with a NATO coalition to destroy the Islamic militant group ISIS but has so far ruled out the option of U.S. soldiers on the ground there.
"You can't contain an organization that is running roughshod through that much territory, causing that much havoc, displacing that many people, killing that many innocents, enslaving that many women. The goal has to be to dismantle them," President Obama said.
U.S. Congressman Billy Long, R - Springfield, is just one of the people whom Matar says he has contacted over the years.
"It's horrific above anything we've ever seen maybe equaling the Holocaust," Matar said.
KY3 questioned Rep. Long about the nation's response to ISIS. He said he has now come to agree that the United States should do more.
"You're going to have to have intelligence. You're going to have to have people on the ground gathering that intelligence, so I think it's going to take more than just airstrikes," Congressman Long said.
Matar was so concerned about his family tht he closed his business in Springfield to go visit them more than a year ago. However, it was too dangerous for him to go to into Syria. He returned and reopened Riad downtown in the summer of 2013.