Missing Egyptian Student Not A Terrorist, Friend Says

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"Maybe in his mind his only option was to run away to stay here in America," said Skylar Pastor, a friend of missing Egyptian foreign exchange student Mena Rezkalla.

That's why Pastor thinks Rezkalla ran away from a group trip to Destiny USA in Syracuse and boarded a bus bound for New York City. The two met at a Watertown church last fall.

"He gave me a bookmark actually, an Egyptian bookmark with hieroglyphs," she said. "He was just really nice and sweet. He was polite and friendly."

Following his disappearance, some 7 News viewers left some not-so-favorable opinions on our Facebook page. Like this one: "He was a foreign exchange student who went rogue on cue and is a terrorist plant by the Egyptian government."

Pastor says Rezkalla is not a terrorist and has no bad motives.

"Maybe in his mind, it's a place to find a job," she said, "more people, more options."

With unrest in Egypt, Rezkalla made it well known to friends that he wanted to stay in the United States and had no interest in returning home.

Pastor says she's worried about him and thinks he's in over his head.

"I mean, he's from Egypt. He's been in northern New York and it's so much different down in New York City."

As far as the investigation goes, Syracuse Police Sgt. Tom Connellan said in an email: "It's a active and open investigation, therefore we won't be releasing any further information."

An official at the Egyptian consulate in New York City, meanwhile, says the consulate has been notified of the situation.

Thursday, August 21, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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