Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Egypt: Kidnappers of Tourists Refuse Ransom Offer Tendered by Norwegian Embassy

According to The Daily News Egypt, kidnappers of an unidentified Norwegian tourist and his Israeli companion in the Sinai Peninsula confirmed on Friday (March 22)  that officials from the Norwegian Embassy in Cairo offered them a large sum of money in exchange for their release, only to be turned down by the abductors.

Subsequently, the kidnappers emphasized that they did not capture the tourists to claim a ransom, but to pressure Egypt’s security forces to release one of their relatives being held on what they referred to as “false and fabricated” charges. The captors added that the tourists would be released if their relative was released on bail.

Thus far, a security official has stated that efforts were underway to employ tribal sheikhs to persuade the kidnappers to release the tourists, in exchange for promises from security forces to review the charges of the relative being held in custody.

COMMENT: The tourists were reportedly kidnapped on Friday morning (March 22) by  masked men on the road from Taba to Dahab in the Al-Sa’al Valley in the city of Nuweiba. Captors kidnapped the tourists to pressure security forces to release a man captured recently in the Al-Sharqeya area.

Sources close to the captors said that the tourists were located in a mountainous region of central Sinai, saying that messages were sent to their respective embassies informing them of the situation. The captors said the tourists would continue to be held in an unknown location, and that they had been allowed to contact their embassies and relatives.

In the New Egypt of today, kidnappings by various groups continue to be a frequent occurrence, which is one reason why I discourage foreigners from traveling in the Sinai. 

Many foreign governments fail to issue travel warnings for the Sinai so as not to offend the government of Mohamed Morsi, yet they rarely are doing their citizens any favors.

The reality is that all governments have a responsibility to protect foreign tourists, yet the Morsi government just doesn't seem to care.

Most governments would  place armed guards on tour buses to protect the vitally important tourism industry, yet Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood has failed to do so, putting foreign tourists at risk. 

Although in the majority of cases, captives are rarely harmed and are well cared for, the reality is that abductions have a great way of disrupting sightseeing schedules, including outbound flights.