The police in the village of Arab al-Awamer in Assiut, Upper Egypt, succeeded in
freeing the Copt Ishaq Mossad Gayed, 55, who was kidnapped for ransom. A few
days earlier Gayed who was driving his car in front of one of the village’s local
schools had to stop when armed strangers shot at his car’s tyres. They forced him
into a car that had no licence plates and drove him outside the village. The police
was able to track down the kidnappers who then fled leaving Gayed behind. Gayed
was freed, and no ransom was paid. The police are currently pursuing the culprits.
Earlier this month the 11-year-old Antonius Fam Berti who lives in the village of
Rahmaniya in Nag Hammadi, Qena, Upper Egypt was kidnapped in broad daylight
by two armed persons in a car carrying no licence plates. Five days later the police
was able to free the little boy.
According to a report by Shabab Christian movement, kidnap for ransom has rose
to unprecedented levels since the lawlessness that followed the 25 January 2011
Arab Sring uprising. The southern town of Nag Hammadi, some 500km south of
Cairo, holds the record for the highest number of kidnap and threat to kill crimes.
The Berti boy kidnapping is the 79th such case in Nag Hammadi since 2011.
Nader Sobhy, founder of Shabab Christian told Watani that 2012 was the worst
year for kidnap of Copts. He pointed out that even though kidnap cases for ransom
are distinctly fewer now, the crime still persists. It is no secret that Copts are
targeted for kidnap mostly because they are the wealthier sector of the community
in Upper Egypt’s rural district; many of them are the professionals, traders and
landowners. As such, they are seen as able to pay ransom; in addition of course to
the fact that Copts are usually a peaceful non-trouble making community, so are
considered easy prey.
Shabab Christian issued a recent report that cited the most notorious cases that
occurred in 2012.
In August 2012, the physician Hazem Nasr Toma was kidnapped while on his way
home from his clinic in Deshna. The kidnappers contacted his wife and asked for a
ransom of EGP100,000. By the time Toma’s wife and his doctor friends were able
to get hold of the required sum the mediator notified them that he had raised the
sum of the ransom to EGP1 million. But after a commotion by the doctors who felt
that they were now easy prey to those gangsters, the police were able to besiege the
home of one of the culprits. After breaking in, Toma was found inside tied and
blindfolded, and the culprits had run away. Local villagers say that the police had
to call for the help of some of the village’s elders who were able to talk the
kidnappers to let Toma ago against letting them get away with their crime.
In August 2012, Effat Bishay Matta’os who works with his father in the poultry
farm business was kidnapped when he went to meet prospective buyers to one of
his father’s poultry farms that he was offering for sale. The prospective buyers
kidnapped him and asked for a EGP60,000 ransom. Once the money was ready,
the kidnappers stole it from the mediators, beat them and refused to hand over
Matta’os. The family had to resort to a local bully and pay him to work as mediator
between them and the kidnappers. Matta’os was finally released after his family
paid EGP125,000. His body carried signs of torture; he was in a very poor
psychological state and refused to talk to anyone.
The 27-year-old Bishoi Toma Girgis from Nag Hammadi works as an architect
with the Hurghada local building department was kidnapped in the early hours
when he was buying cigarettes near his Hurghada home. His kidnappers, who also
came from Nag Hammadi, asked the family for a USD50 million ransom, and they
said that Girgis is kept in an apartment in Nag Hammadi. The police was able to
free Girgis. The kidnappers later explained that they were in disagreement with
Girgis about the value of a piece of some smuggled artefact.
In May 2012, the 27-year-old Alfred Samuel Abdel Messih who goes by the name
of Larry was kidnapped in Nag Hammadi when he went to his father’s warehouse
at night to fetch some item from the store. Four armed men who had hidden in the
dark assaulted him and forced him into a nearby car. Larry came back 22 days later
only after a ransom of EGP260,000 was paid. The original ransom that was asked
for was EGP1 million. Larry came back in a dreadful physical and psychological
state owing to the torture he had undergone throughout the 22 days he was
kidnapped. All through this period he was tied up and forced to sleep in the car
trunk and was only released a few four hours daily after the kidnappers made sure
his hands and legs were tied and his mouth gagged. Besides all sort of torture that
Larry was subjected to, he was also forced to take drugs. Local villagers said that
the father never filed any complaint with the police due to the ill security state of
the country at the time.
In January 2012, a cement dealer, Moawad Assaad, 55, and his son Assaad
Moawad Assaad, 25, were killed in Nag Hammadi when they resisted their
kidnappers. The Assaads originally refused to pay tribute money to some local
gang. When the Assaads refused to pay up, the mob attempted to kidnap them and
the Assaads were shot while resisting their kidnappers. Another other son, Boulos
Moawad Assaad, 28, miraculously fled and reported that Ahmed Saber, a local
arms trafficker was behind the whole incident. Saber had made it his business to
blackmail Copts. Following this incident, some 1500 Copts closed down their
shops and went on a sit-in on the main road in front of the Security Directorate,
demanding protection and law enforcement.
21 December 2015