Human rights group: Illinois woman died in Syrian prison

A human rights monitoring group believes a young, Chicago-area woman who was detained two years ago by Syrian President Bashar Assad's government has been executed.

Layla Shweikani was "executed in Saydnaya military prison," according to the Syrian Network for Human Rights, a local Chicago CBS affiliate reported

According to the news outlet, congregants at the Mecca Center in Willowbrook, Ill., performed a funeral prayer for Shweikani, who was from the area. 


Shweikani's family was recently told she died in 2016, after 10 months in detention, the CBS affiliate reported without providing details.

In 2015, Shweikani traveled to Syria where she provided humanitarian relief to those displaced from their homes because of the conflict.

She helped send aid to residents of Ghouta, a besieged Damascus suburb that was being starved out by Assad officials.

A friend of hers told the CBS affiliate that Shweikani "couldn’t just stand there and watch what happened to the people who were bombed and lost everything they have.”

The friend described Shweikani as a "civil and peaceful activist" who had compassion for those impacted by the war in Syria, where she had spent part of her childhood. 

She was taken into custody along with her father and fiancé in February 2016.


An independent researcher that works to help families track down their loved ones being detained in Syrian prisons, Qutaiba Bakeer Agha, said Shweikani pled with her detainers to release her father and fiancee. 

Both men were released, leaving Shweikani to suffer imprisonment in solitary confinement. 

Agha believes that Shweikani was ultimately executed.