For most families, Thanksgiving is a happy occasion that reminds them of how grateful they are to have each other. But for the father of 11-year-old Aziz Khan, the holiday marks another year that has gone by with Aziz still missing. The Khan family will spend this Thanksgiving like they have spent every holiday for the past four years, with an empty seat at the table.
On Nov. 27, 2017, just after Thanksgiving, Aziz was allegedly abducted by his non-custodial mother, Rabia Khalid, from their home in Atlanta, Georgia.
Aziz’s abduction happened after years of custody dispute between Aziz’s parents, Abdul and Rabia. The couple separated in 2014 and had shared custody of Aziz. Shortly after, Rabia moved with her son from New Orleans, Louisiana to Atlanta, Georgia for a new job.
Abdul made sure he and Aziz spent as much time together as possible despite the over 400 miles of distance that separated them. “I made my whole work schedule around Aziz,” said Abdul. “I'd visit him every other weekend and I would bring him to New Orleans so he could be with his family.”
For Abdul and his side of the family, the move was challenging but, in some ways, brought them closer together. “It taught us that we needed to value every second that we had with each other,” said Rubina Khan, Aziz’s paternal aunt.
But, according to Abdul, Aziz’s mom, Rabia, made it increasingly difficult over time for him to see Aziz. This sparked a new, bitter custody battle between Abdul and Rabia that went on for several years. According to the U.S. Marshals, when it became clear that Rabia would lose custody of Aziz, she and her new husband, Elliot Bourgeois, vanished, taking Aziz with them.
“There's no indication of where they went or how they went there,” said Abdul. “They deleted their accounts, they shut down their phones and they disappeared.” Since then, Rabia has been charged with felony kidnapping and the U.S. Marshals are investigating.
According to Deputy U.S. Marshal, Brian Fair, Rabia and her husband left their esteemed careers in the medical field, took Aziz out of school and seemingly vanished. “They did not show up at work one day, just out of the blue,” said Fair. “They fell off the map.”
Aziz’s family describes the last several years as devastating. “I don’t know if Aziz is safe or if he's happy,” said Abdul.
“We’ve really lost joy in my family. We don't really celebrate holidays as much,” said Aziz’s aunt, Rubina.
If anyone has information about Aziz Khan or Rabia Khalid’s whereabouts, they are urged to contact the Atlanta Police Department in Georgia at 1-404-658-6666 or the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST.