Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Letters from Egypt: My Friend was Kidnapped in Cairo

“It’s a new business… These bastards are not afraid of anybody – they don’t change the place even.”

Kidnappings are on the rise in Cairo, but amazingly, the media has not really covered it. When you look up “kidnappings in Egypt” most of the articles revolve around the number of Christians kidnapped since the 2011 uprising.

Most recently, two Egyptian females were kidnapped in the 6th of October (on the outskirts of Cairo). They were released after ransom was paid by their grandmother. A source close to the family told me this morning that initially the captors wanted LE 10 million (about $1.4 million), but the grandmother was able to negotiate down to LE 5 million (about $715,000). I cannot confirm that is the exact amount, but what I can confirm is that a ransom was paid and the girls released to their families.

My friend was kidnapped in Cairo. Correction: my friend’s husband was kidnapped, but it doesn’t take away from a serious problem that is increasing at alarming rates in Cairo. He was driving a black Mercedes in front of Golf City Mall in Obour on a late-August morning when the road was blocked with shots fired in the air. Elena’s* husband (Egyptian) offered the kidnappers the car, but instead, they took him. The car was left with the keys in the ignition and still running until police came. From his description, his captors were farmers and they fed and gave him mineral water. A LE 10-million ransom was asked, but Elena said: “And we didn’t get him after the first payment, it was a psychological game.” In the end, she ended up paying LE 500,000 (around $71,000) and her husband was released after 13 days. Elena said that today another man driving a black Mercedes was kidnapped from the same spot as her husband.

She said, “It’s a new business. It’s unbelievable the number of these cases!” Elena added that during her husband’s investigation, the uncle of one of the police working on the case was also kidnapped. Elena said, “They know that the police trace their calls, but they are not afraid. These bastards are not afraid of anybody – they don’t change the place even.” She also added that the police offer little to no value in the rescue effort, even insinuating that it could be a possible collaboration.

It appears that for right now, the kidnappers are choosing at random but most likely based upon the make and model of the vehicle. Also keep in mind that foreigners have not been targeted, but that doesn’t mean that as the kidnappers’ confidence grows that it can’t be a possibility for the future.

*Name changed as the investigation is still open

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