" Of course I was scared, " Pol Van Hessche says as he recounts coming face to face with members of ISIL, the radical Takfiri group, in Syria.
The 50 - year - old care home manager from Menen, Belgium, went there to find his son.
" There were five to six guards, " he says. " All armed with rifles and wearing masks. They brought the two boys out to see us. "
The two boys, Pol speaks about, are his 18 - year - old son Lucas and his best friend, 19 - year - old Abdelmalek Boutalliss.
The pair went missing on June 11. It later emerged that they had travelled to Syria and joined up with ISIL terrorists near to their stronghold of Raqqa.
" The boys are staying in the desert, in an international house, with other Europeans, Indonesian and Chinese as well, " Van Hessche says.
" It was not easy to speak, " Van Hessche said. " Guardians[ISIL] were looking at us. It was dangerous. My son looked scared as well. "
Van Hessche and the father of Abdelmalek, Idriss Boutalliss, made the dangerous three - day journey to see their sons, across the desert of northern Syria last week. Their two sons refused to leave.
The trip was set up by another Belgian father, Dimitri Bontinck, a former soldier who managed to rescue his own son, Jejoen Bontinck, from Syria last year.
" They heard about me, about my story in the past that I had succeeded with my son " Bontinck says. " So they contacted me and asked for my help. I said yes. "
Van Hessche says the teenagers must have had help to go to Syria and does not know why they went. He fears they will next be taken to a weapons training camp: " After a few months I think it is to do jihad, but jihad is not only fighting, it is also helping people. I asked Lucas, why not help people in Haiti? "
The two teenagers are among an estimated 2,000 Europeans who have travelled to Syria since the foreign - hatched conflict began.