Sam Goodwin Set Off To Visit All 193 Countries In The World — Then He Got To Syria And Mysteriously Jailed

He spent more than two months in jail.

Sam Goodwin Set Off To Visit All 193 Countries In The World — Then He Got To Syria And Mysteriously Jailed getty

Sam Goodwin was a recent graduate of Niagra University in New York in 2012 when he and a friend moved to Singapore to work for a startup. From that home base, he began to travel widely. Soon he made up his mind that he was going to visit all 193 countries in the world within one year. So he quit his job and set out to accomplish his mission. He almost made it. Sam Goodwin only had 10 countries to go when he disappeared. It turns out, once the St. Louis native got to Syria, he was arrested and thrown in jail. He was released to his family last Friday. But, why was he arrested? What countries does he have left to visit? Who is Sam Goodwin?


Let's look at what we know about this man and his unfortunate circumstances. 

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1. He started out by wanting to travel the world. 

According to The New York Times, Goodwin — who is a native of St. Louis, Missouri — wanted to see every country in the world. It's an ambitious goal, but one he wanted to accomplish. 


"An American traveler from St. Louis was on a quest to visit every country in the world. He had only 10 to go when he decided to travel to Syria. Within two days of entering the country, he disappeared," reported the outlet, who also said that he'd been held captive for more than two months. 

Sam Goodwin wanted to travel the world, which is why he was in Syria.


2. Sam Goodwin was extensively blogging his travels. 

According to his website, before he'd been captured in Syria, he'd visited countries like the Galapagos and Singapore. He was compiling top 10 lists, posting photos to his Facebook page, and talking about his adventures. 

"Some unique memories from around the globe include paragliding over Queenstown, tracking white rhinos on foot in Swaziland, ringing in New Years on a party boat in Iran, running with the bulls in Pamplona, coaching North Korea’s National Hockey Team, four-wheeling across the Sahara Desert, co-founding an NGO in the Philippines, swimming with sea lions in the Galápagos, hosting a volleyball camp in Afghanistan, motorbiking through street riots in Haiti, flying in a prop plane over Mount Everest… to name a few! I was a 2017 inductee to the Travelers’ Century Club and as of August 2018 have visited all 50 US States," he said.

Sam Goodwin was blogging about his travel adventures. 


3. Lebanon brokered the deal for his release. 

According to CBS News, Lebanon brokered the deal for Sam Goodwin to be released to his family. 

"An American tourist who was being held in Syria has been released in a deal brokered by Lebanon, CBS News has confirmed. Sam Goodwin, 30, was reunited with his parents Friday morning overseas. Goodwin's family said he had been released with the aid of Abbas Ibrahim, the head of Lebanese internal security," reported the outlet.

Lebanon brokered the deal for Sam Goodwin's release. 


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4. Sam Goodwin, unwittingly or not, entered into an area controlled by a regime. 

According to The Washington Post, Sam Goodwin entered into an area controlled by a regime, which is why he was captured. 

"Sam Goodwin, 30, was last seen by a security camera May 25 heading from the Assia hotel in the city of Qamishli toward a regime-controlled neighborhood, according to a Kurdish security official. Goodwin had crossed the border from Iraq into northeast Syria hours earlier as part of an attempt to visit every country in the world," reported the outlet, who said the regime was controlled by the contentious President Assad.

Sam Goodwin, whether inadvertently or not, entered into an area controlled by the Assad regime.


5. He is currently home with his family, who have asked for privacy. 

According to Fox 2 News, when Sam Goodwin was released, he was released to the custody of his family, who asked that the press respect their privacy as they "reconnect" with their son. 

"We are grateful to be reunited with our son Sam," his parents, Thomas and Ann Goodwin, wrote. They noted that their 30-year-old son was "healthy and with his family." The Goodwins said they were "forever indebted" to Lebanese Gen. Abbas Ibrahim — the head of Lebanon's Directorate of General Security — "and to all others who helped secure the release of our son." They said they were asking for privacy as they "reconnect with Sam," reported the outlet.

Sam Goodwin is now home with his family. 


6. Even though Sam Goodwin has been returned to the safety of his family, there are still others that are missing. 

According to Yahoo News, while Sam Goodwin has been released to the safety of his family, there are still others that are missing. One such person is Austin Tice, a journalist who has been missing since 2012. 

"U.S. citizens are urged to not travel to Syria, which the State Department designates a "Level 4: Do Not Travel" country. Kidnappings by both the Assad regime and terror groups like ISIS have been common throughout the country's ongoing war. American journalist Austin Tice is still believed to be held in Syria, while a Chicago-based Syrian American woman was killed while in Syrian regime custody in 2016," reported the outlet.

Congratulations are in order for Sam Goodwin, and here's hoping that Austin Tice and others return home safely soon. 

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Bernadette Giacomazzo is an editor, writer, and photographer whose work has appeared in People, Teen Vogue, Us Weekly, The Source, XXL, HipHopDX, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Post, and more. She is also the author of The Uprising series. For more information about Bernadette Giacomazzo, click here.