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Porchlight International for the Missing & Unidentified > Missing Persons 1981 > MacDonald, Alison Aug 17 1981

Title: MacDonald, Alison Aug 17 1981
Description: Himalayas 19 YO

monkalup - April 29, 2007 07:59 PM (GMT)

Case of missing student re-opened 26 years after disappearance

Alison MacDonald went missing in the Himilayas in 1981

Click here to watch this video report in Windows Media format

The father of a young Scottish woman who disappeared 26 years ago in India says he is praying for fresh news of his daughter after Interpol re-opened investigations into the case.

Alison MacDonald was on holiday in 1981 in the Himalayas when she vanished. Today her minister father said he is ready to jump on a plane to the continent the second he gets any new information.

The August 17, 1981 is a date ingrained in the mind of Reverend Kenny MacDonald. It is the
The Himalayan village of Sonamarg
day his 19-year-old daughter Alison vanished while on holiday high up in the Himalayas.

Alison's 45th birthday passed in December but her family have never given up hope of seeing her alive again. Now their conviction has been given fresh impetus after Interpol asked detectives to re-open investigations.

The new lead appears to focus on claims that Alison was kidnapped by a militant leader, Sayed Salahuddin, after tapes emerged of him speaking apparently with traces of a Highland accent. Alison's family think he may have picked up the dialect through their daughter, who was a student
There are claims that Alison was kidnapped by a militant leader, Sayed Salahuddin
at Aberdeen University.

Over the years the MacDonald's have travelled to India to look for Alison countless times. Despite the passage of time they have never lost faith that she is alive and they will be re-united with her.

The MacDonalds say they will now decide what course of action to take, but any fresh developments could bring one of Scotland's most baffling missing person mysteries to a conclusion.
The family of a Scottish student who vanished 26-years-ago while on holiday in the Himalayas say they are delighted Indian authorities are re-opening investigations into her disappearance.

Alison's father Reverend Kenny MacDonald has never given up hope

Nineteen-year-old Alison MacDonald was last seen in the village of Sonamarg in August 1981. Her family have never given up hope that she will one day be re-united with them.

Now Interpol have asked for the case to be re-opened. It is thought the young woman may have been kidnapped by a militant leader after tapes emerged of him speaking with apparently a Western Isles accent.

monkalup - April 29, 2007 08:03 PM (GMT)

monkalup - February 3, 2009 02:28 AM (GMT)
Daughter missing 27 years 'alive'

Alison MacDonald was 19 when she disappeared
The family of a Scotswoman who vanished in Kashmir 27 years ago believe she was kidnapped and is still alive.

Alison MacDonald's family have spent thousands of pounds on trying to unearth clues to her disappearance.

Her father Kenny, now 74, has made 16 trips to the region, which is embroiled in a territorial dispute between India and Pakistan.

The family's search for her will be told in a programme made for Gaelic channel BBC Alba.

Scottish accent

Ms MacDonald was a 19-year-old student when she went to Kashmir with a friend.

She disappeared while her friend was on a two-day trip to the Kolahoi glacier.

Kashmiri police closed the case after failing to find any clues as to what happened to her.

Despite failing health and eyesight, her 74-year-old father has vowed to return to Kashmir if more clues emerge.

Ms MacDonald, who was raised on Lewis, was a student at the University of Aberdeen.

Her disappearance was a major news story at the time and made headlines again in 2007 when the inquiry was reopened after new evidence emerged, thought to be linked to the case.

Father's story

A tape of a prominent Kashmiri rebel appeared to feature him speaking English with a Scottish accent, prompting unproven suggestions that he may have been taught by Alison.

Sgeul Athair: A Father's Story was produced by Mactv and will be shown on BBC Alba on Monday night.

Kashmir has been disputed by India and Pakistan since the partition of the subcontinent in 1947.

The two neighbours, now nuclear powers, have twice waged war over Kashmir, which is more than 60% Muslim.

The mountainous region is divided by a Line of Control, often breached by separatist militants.

monkalup - February 3, 2009 02:30 AM (GMT)
‘We are sure that Alison is still alive out there’ CAROLYN CHURCHILL February 20 2007
Detectives in India have reopened an investigation into the disappearance of a Scottish tourist who went missing more than 25 years ago.

Alison Macdonald was 19 when she vanished on August 17, 1981 during a backpacking trip to the Kashmir region.

The case was closed after an initial investigation, but her parents, Kenny and Reta, believe that she may have been kidnapped and have fought for years to discover the truth.

advertisementNow it has emerged that police in Kashmir have reopened the inquiry after Interpol asked them to look at the case once again.

The development concerns a recording of an interview with Syed Salahuddin, the leader of the Hizb-ul-Muhajideen militant group which is fighting for Kashmiri independence.

Mr Macdonald, a retired Free Church of Scotland minister, claimed that during the recording, which is thought to have been made in 2001, some of Mr Salahuddin's words were spoken with a Scottish accent.

He said that it could indicate that Mr Salahuddin had been educated by a Scottish person, providing a possible link to Miss Macdonald's disappearance. The recording of Mr Salahuddin has previously been studied by phonetics experts including Professor Michael MacMahon, of Glasgow University, who found no conclusive evidence.

But Mr Macdonald has continued to press police on the issue and detectives in Srinagar, the Kashmiri capital, reopened the inquiry after a request from Interpol.

Somebody who wasn’t able to speak at the time may remember something now or be freed of certain constraints and able to speak now.
Kenny Macdonald

Yesterday Mr Macdonald, 72, who has been to the region 16 times to carry out his own investigations, welcomed the news.

"It is good news," he said. "Somebody who wasn't able to speak at the time may remember something now or be freed of certain constraints and able to speak now. Salahuddin spoke in such a way that made us think he was educated by Scottish people. He was also very much of the scene at that time.

"We have tried to eliminate all possibilities of what could have happened to her. We have no real clues so we try to follow all leads. It is part of the ongoing investigation over the past 25 years."

Miss Macdonald, a history student at Aberdeen University, left her family home on Skye to travel to India with her friend Liz Merry. They were visiting the village of Sonamarg when Miss Merry set off on a two-day trip to see the Kolahoi glacier, while Miss Macdonald chose to stay behind.

On August 17, 1981, she went for a walk and bought some apples from a nearby trader. She was never seen again although her clothes and rucksack had been left in the guesthouse.

Six days later, her parents received the news, through a telegram sent from Miss Merry to her own parents, that Miss Macdonald was "lost in hills".

The Macdonald family, including Alison's brothers Sam, 43, and Derek, 38, have made several trips to the region in a bid to find information.

Yesterday, Kuldeep Khoda, additional director general of Jammu and Kashmir Police, confirmed that the case had been reopened.

He said: "Alison's father had been persisting with his own inquiry and he produced this CD of an interview with Salahuddin. He said his pronunciation and dialect were typical of the area where he lives and that he used certain words that the girl used to use.

"They have asked us to look into this and we have now asked our field agencies to reopen the case. The problem is that Salahuddin is in Pakistan. Salahuddin has never spoken about the case, but the father says he could only have got these words from his daughter and that he may have kidnapped and held the girl."

Mr Macdonald, who now lives in Invergordon, said he believed his daughter may have been kidnapped and later sold as a teacher.

He said the family would never give up hope. "When something is lost you keep looking for it," he said.

"You never give up.

"We are very much convinced that Alison is alive somewhere."

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monkalup - February 3, 2009 02:32 AM (GMT)
Praying for a miracle as new lead emerges

« Previous « PreviousNext » Next »View GalleryPublished Date: 23 February 2007
THE father of Alison Macdonald this week said he was 'very excited' at new developments which have seen detectives in India reopen investigations into her disappearance.
Rev Kenny Macdonald (71), a Free Church minister now living in Rosskeen, Ross-shire, is now waiting by the phone for any news about his daughter, who disappeared nearly 26 years ago.
News broke this week that Interpol have asked Indian authorities tADVERTISEMENT o re-open inquiries after a wanted Islamic terrorist appeared to use a Scottish dialect and phrases in a broadcast to his followers.
Syed Salahuddin is the leader of Hizbul Mujahideen, the militant wing of a separatist Pakistani political party Jamaat-e-Islami.
He now also chairs the United Jihad Council, the umbrella organisation of all militant outfits fighting in Kashmir.
Salahuddin is on the list of 20 most wanted people which India provided Pakistan and Interpol in 2002.
One theory is that he may have kidnapped Alison and forced her to teach him English.
Rev Macdonald told the 'Gazette': "Salahuddin speaks English with a very west-coast Scottish accent, and some people have even said he sounds like me.
"A leading professor has studied it and is convinced that Salahuddin was taught English by a Scot. We asked the foreign secretary to look into it, and the police are now investigating."
A former customs officer in Stornoway and Coll councillor, Rev Macdonald has never given up the hope that Alison may still be alive.
Formerly a student at The Nicolson Institute, Alison was just 19 when she vanished while on holiday in the Himalayas with a friend, Liz Merry.
They reached the village of Sonamarg, 9,000ft up in the Himalayas.
While Miss Merry went off on a two-day trip to see the Kolahoi glacier, Alison stayed behind.
On 17 August she went for a walk, and was last seen buying apples from a trader.
Her clothes and rucksack were found in her room, and her disappearance was relayed to her family six days later.
Rev Macdonald, who is now blind and suffers from multiple sclerosis, has visited Kashmir and Pakistan around 17 times, in the vain hope of establishing exactly what happened to his daughter.
In that time, his hopes have been raised and dashed on several occasions, and he once even hired notorious bounty hunters in an effort to locate Alison.
To date, he is still at a loss to understand what happened to his girl.
This week, Rev Macdonald revealed to the 'Gazette' that his son, Sam, recently made a trip to Chennai, east of India, after discovering an interesting link on the Internet.
"He learned that three shops had opened close to where Alison went missing, and they were all called 'Alison'," said Rev Macdonald.
"Sam travelled over with his family to investigate, but as it happened it was all perfectly innocent. All that was meant by the name of the shop was 'Ali's Son'. As it happened I knew the grandfather of that family very well."
Rev Macdonald is in good spirits on hearing the latest development overseas, and remains convinced that his daughter is still alive.
"What is so exciting is that all of this has come out of the blue from India," he said.
"Something is obviously stirring them up over there, and that is a good thing.
"It may be that someone might be able to say something now that they couldn't have done a while ago.
"I have never given up hope, and what is great is that I have never been allowed to give up hope. Even though Alison went missing so long ago, whenever there is a development it is always given maximum coverage."
What is also encouraging, said Rev Macdonald, is that the inspector in charge of the investigation into Alison's disappearance in 1981, Mr Kuldeep Khoda, is now the police director general for the entire Jammu and Kashmir region.
"We are very good friends with him, so we regard that as a vital link," he said.
Rev Macdonald, also well-known in the islands for his abilities as a footballer with Back FC, lived in Skye for the last seven years before recently moving back to Rosskeen, where he currently preaches until a permanent minister is sourced.
He cites his faith in God as the decisive factor in coping with the trauma and heartbreak of the last 26 years.
"I can't imagine life without faith - it would just be impossible," he said.
"There is a power which exists that is higher than ourselves, and though we don't understand everything, we must take good things out of everything. God enables us to do everything we should do.
"Everything that happens is His will."

monkalup - February 3, 2009 02:33 AM (GMT)
All Rights Reserved

Sunday Express

January 18, 2009 Sunday
Scottish Edition


591 words

'I shall see our missing Alison again'

By Paula Murray

SCOTTISH student Alison MacDonald disappeared in Kashmir almost 30 years ago, but her parents still believe they will see her again.

Kenneth and Reta MacDonald have dedicated their lives ever since to searching for their daughter, making several trips to the volatile and often lawless region.

They believe it is "more than likely" that she is still living with her kidnappers in the mountains, perhaps with a brood of grandchildren they have never met.

Last night, ahead of a new television documentary about their plight, Rev MacDonald - a retired Free Church minister - said his daughter may have become a village teacher.

This theory gained weight when a Kashmiri rebel who spoke English with a Scottish accent was found two years ago.

The clue persuaded Interpol to reopen the probe into her disappearance, but so far nothing new has surfaced.

Alison, from the Western Isles, went missing while she was backpacking with a friend in northern India in 1981, leaving all her belongings behind. Local police believe she plunged into a ravine or river and died.

However, the MacDonalds believe the Aberdeen University student, who would now be 47, was kidnapped and never allowed to contact her family or friends.

Speaking ahead of the BBC Alba programme tomorrow night, Rev MacDonald said she would have gradually become part of the rebel community, and may even have married and had children.

He said: "We started off thinking she was dead. When I first went out there I went out looking for her body. But the place where she went missing was so peaceful and there was no sign of her, nothing to suggest she'd come to any harm and no body so I simply had to believe she had been abducted. There was no other explanation.

"Over the years other things have emerged which have served to strengthen our belief that Alison is alive.

"Even now, we are ready to jump on a plane at a moment's notice and fly over.

We will not go there for nothing but if some new clues emerge we will investigate them either ourselves or we'll send someone on our behalf."

The most recent break in the case saw the Indian authorities begin searching for a militant leader who is believed to have some knowledge about Alison's fate.

However, he has fled to Pakistan and remains in hiding.

Rev MacDonald, 74, said: "There are things going on all the time, the case is not closed. Too many things have happened for them just to be coincidence and because of that we can't draw a line under it. My eyesight is going but I know I will see Alison again."

The couple, who have three other children, seven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, are both committed Christians.

And he added that without their faith the quest to locate their daughter could have been impossible.

He said: "Something like this can put such a strain on you that it can break a family, but not us.

"Even the children born after Alison disappeared feel close to her.

"People in Kashmir value education and I think Alison was taken because she was a very outgoing, nice looking girl who went to university. Maybe her task was to educate them.

"Or maybe her abductors wanted to discredit the Indian Army. I am convinced the militant groups in Kashmir knew something more than what they let on during my first trip. It all became so public so very quickly that I think they panicked.

"Every time I touch down in India I feel joy because I feel I'm returning to Alison, but equally, every time I take off again I feel I am leaving her again and it is painful."

"Sgeul Athair: A Father's Story" is on BBC Alba, tomorrow at 9pm

HOPE: Alison MacDonald, left, went missing in Kashmir almost 30 years ago but her parents have not given up hope of finding her. Her father, right, is pictured on one of her parents, many trips there
SEARCH: Rev and Reta MacDonald
LAWLESS: The Kashmir region of India is well known for its rebel groups

January 20, 2009

monkalup - February 3, 2009 02:36 AM (GMT)
McCanns’ torture too raw for North parents
Couple convinced their missing daughter and Madeleine are still alive
By Sue Restan

Published: 07/05/2008

PRAYERS: Kenneth and Reta Macdonald still have hope. David Whittaker-Smith
More Pictures
A RETIRED Highland minister whose daughter disappeared in the Himalayas almost 27 years ago yesterday said he could not bear to follow coverage of the Madeleine McCann story as it brought back his pain.

However, the Rev Kenneth Macdonald, 73, of Rosskeen, near Invergordon, in Easter Ross, believes both Madeleine and his daughter, Alison, are still alive.

He believes there was a purpose to their disappearances and that, one day, they will both be found.

Alison was 19 when she went missing in August 1981 while on a backpacking holiday with her friend, Liz Merry. The pair separated for a few days. Alison’s clothes and rucksack were later found in her room, but she was never seen again.

Mr Macdonald said he and his wife, Reta, made many trips to the Himalayas.

“Everyone knows we’ve done our utmost and we couldn’t find her, so when Alison comes back it will be to His glory,” he said.

Mr Macdonald said Madeleine, who was just three when she disappeared from the family’s holiday apartment in the Algarve resort of Praia Da Luz on May 3 last year, also came from a family of strong believers.

As well as publicising the search for their missing daughter, her parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, have spearheaded a campaign for a Europe-wide missing child alert system, which would create a network of fast-response warnings across borders when a child is believed to have been abducted.

Mr Macdonald, who was a Free Church of Scotland minister at Portree and Dunvegan on Skye, and more recently at Rosskeen, said he and his wife wanted to watch the TV coverage of Madeleine’s disappearance, but could not do it.

“Whenever it came on, we just looked at each other and switched it off. It was like reliving the whole thing again.

“Even though we’ve been living with this for 27 years, and we know it’s for a purpose, we still have moments of grief and things like this trigger it off,” he said.

But he is still convinced they will both be found alive. “We certainly don’t think either of them are dead. It would all be without purpose if they were.

“Alison was a Christian and I fully expect to find out that she has been doing great work where she is.”

Last year, the Macdonalds thought there may be a breakthrough in the search for Alison.

Interpol asked Indian authorities to reopen the case after a wanted Islamic terrorist appeared to use a Scottish dialect and phrases in a broadcast to his followers. It was thought he may have been taught by Alison.

monkalup - February 3, 2009 02:40 AM (GMT)
Could Alison still be alive in the hills of Kashmir?

Alison MacDonald disappeared during a holiday in the Himalayas as a 19 year old student. Kenneth MacDonald believes his daughter lives.

« Previous « PreviousNext » Next »View GalleryADVERTISEMENTPublished Date: 20 February 2007
ALISON MacDonald would have been 45 last Christmas Day. It is another occasion her family have marked, but not celebrated. They still cling to the hope she is temporarily away, although her absence has now stretched to more than 26 years.
Alison, then a pretty, 19-year-old student, vanished while on a holiday in the Himalayas with a friend, leaving her family only able to speculate on her fate and whether she is alive.

Kashmiri police closed the case after failing to find any clues. However, it has now been revealed that Interpol officials in London have asked detectives to re-open investigations following claims that she may have been kidnapped and held by a wanted Islamic terrorist.

Syed Salahuddin, a Kashmiri militant leader is head of the Hizb-ul-Muhajideen, the largest militant group fighting Indian forces. He is based in Pakistan, from where he co-ordinates his fight for Kashmiri independence.

Interpol officials contacted detectives in Srinagar, the Kashmiri capital, four weeks ago and asked them to investigate new evidence suggesting a link between Salahuddin and Alison.

Claims that he was involved with her disappearance were made by her father, the Rev Kenneth MacDonald, a Free Church minister from Rosskeen in Ross-shire, who has been investigating her case since she went missing in 1981.

He sent Interpol officials a CD containing a television interview with Salahuddin in 2000, in which he claims the wanted Kashmiri spoke certain words in a west coast Scottish accent, and used others which Mr MacDonald believes he could have picked up from his daughter.

He says he has been through too much to see the new line of inquiry as a breakthrough, but says it could be an important lead. He told The Scotsman yesterday: "We have never stopped investigating and this is part of the ongoing inquiries. Salahuddin is one of a number of people we are interested in as they were there at the time and were involved in liberation for Kashmir.

"Indians who learn English very much use Scottish or English phrases. It could have been picked up from Alison's teaching, it's just one of these things we are checking up on.

"We can't say for definite that a certain phrase was one that only Alison used. But one of the reasons given for her kidnapping was that she would have been able to educate a family. A university student would be an ideal teacher."

Mr MacDonald, 71, who suffers from multiple sclerosis and is registered as blind, added: "We are keeping an open mind. Our hopes have been raised and dashed so often we don't allow ourselves to get carried away. But we pray that one day we will get good news."

Kuldeep Khoda, the police director general for Jammu and Kashmir, said: "Alison's father has been persisting with his own inquiry and he produced this CD of an interview with Salahuddin. He said his pronunciation and dialect were typical of the area where he lives and that he used certain words that the girl used to use.

"They have asked us to look into this, and we have now asked our field agencies to reopen the case. The problem is that Salahuddin is in Pakistan. We're trying to develop the lead.

"Salahuddin has never spoken about the case, but the father says he could only have got these words from his daughter, and that he may have kidnapped and held the girl."

Salahuddin's Hizb-ul-Mujahidden is one of the most feared Kashmiri militant groups and has links with Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the Taleban ally currently fighting British and American troops in Afghanistan.

Alison had always dreamed of going to India. In 1981 she set off on a back-packing journey with her medical student friend, Liz Merry, now a GP.

They reached the village of Sonamarg, 9,000ft up in the Himalayas. While Miss Merry went off on a two-day trip to see the Kolahoi glacier, Alison stayed behind. On 17 August she went for a walk. She was last seen buying apples from a trader. Her clothes and rucksack were found in her room. Her disappearance was relayed to her family six days later.

Mr MacDonald recalled: "One minute we were a happy, united family and a few seconds later we knew things would never be the same again."

Since then he has spent thousands of pounds making almost 20 trips to Kashmir and Pakistan seeking the truth. He has dealt with Interpol, the British and Indian governments and the Kashmiri underworld, including bounty hunters called the Three Musketeers - who claimed they could find Alison - but nothing has ever been found.

"I am not a father foolishly clinging to a false belief or refusing to accept his daughter is dead," Mr MacDonald said. "I will never give up the search until we find Alison. I know in my heart she is alive."


MICHAEL MacMahon, professor of phonetics at Glasgow University, was consulted on the case in 2001.

He said: "I was asked to examine a Channel 4 documentary tape, an interview with Sayed Salahuddin. Various people on Skye had seen the programme and remarked that there was a Skye element in his pronunciation of English. They wondered how he picked it up and put two and two together and asked, could Alison have taught him English?

"There were bits of Scottish pronunciation, but certainly no trace of Gaelic. There are fits. There was one point where he says 'go ahead' using the 'go' used in Scottish. I got a certain similarity, but nothing more than that.

"I've done a lot of forensic work in the past. In this case I felt there was not enough evidence.

"It's possible but not conclusive. You can't tell one way or another, but there are grounds for continuing the investigation."

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