Egyptian Kidnapper Releases American Hostages

The Rev. Michel Louis and Lisa Alphonse were taken by gunpoint Friday while on a church group bus trip in Egypt.

Posted: 07/16/2012 11:49 AM EDT
Lisa Alphonse and the Rev. Michel Louis were released in Egypt.

A kidnapper who had abducted two Americans in Egypt on Friday has freed the two Boston-area residents on Monday, after Egyptian officials promised they would work on releasing his uncle from prison, according to the Associated Press. The kidnapper had threatened to kill both captives.

The Rev. Michel Louis, 61, pastor of the Free Pentecostal Church of God in Boston, and Lisa Alphonse, a 39-year-old mother of two, were taken by gunpoint in the Sinai Desert while traveling with a group of about two-dozen Haitian and Haitian-American churchgoers. Haytham Ragab, the tour group’s 28-year-old guide, also was kidnapped in order to translate.

Bedouin tribesman Jirmy Abu-Masuh intercepted the group’s Israel-bound bus and captured the two to gain leverage in the release of his 62-year-old uncle, who was jailed after refusing to pay $100 to police officers at a checkpoint. Louis had volunteered himself as hostage in place of a woman, saying, “take me,” according to a friend of the family who was also on board.

“If my uncle gets 50 years (in prison), they will stay with me for 50 years. If they release him, I will release them," Abu-Masuh told the AP Saturday. “Tomorrow I will kidnap other nationalities and their embassies will be notified for the whole world to know.”

Louis’s son, Jean Louis, has revealed that his father has diabetes, was captured without his medication and would likely require medical attention.

Abu-Masuh had said only, “It’s up to security officials to get medicine to Louis.”

The AP reported the kidnapper said by phone after releasing the Americans that he wanted to “give the [Americans] mercy,” because they were not involved with his uncle’s dispute with police.

This marks the third kidnapping of American tourists in the Sinai Peninsula this year, following those in early February and late May. The revolution that sparked the fall of former President Hosni Mubarak has left the country in a state of lawlessness, which has allowed for a prominent rise in abductions.

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(Photo: CBS News)