In two brief conversations by telephone with the man holding two Americans and an Egyptian hostage, the Daily News Egypt learned that Jirmy Abu-Masuh is hiding the two in the mountains, but not in his home, as has been reported.
Abu-Masuh said that the two American hostages, the man, 61, the woman, 39, were fine and he will observe Bedouin tradition be keeping them well fed and comfortable for three days. But after that, there will be no more phone calls and their treatment will be “more like prisoners.” To illustrate he said they would be tied up and in the worst case scenario, left in the mountains, “where they will be attacked by scorpions and snakes.”
Abu-Masuh claims that he only took the 28 year-old Egyptian guide with them to assist with translation.
Abu-Masuh explains that if his uncle, detained in Borg-el Arab prison in Alexandria, is released, he will give up the hostages in an arrangement of their choice, including leaving them at the US embassy or “his men will drive them to Cairo.”
However, he insists that after the three days, a deadline which he says expires tomorrow, if the relevant authorities do not release his uncle he will not release his hostages and will abduct more tourists of different nationalities “and Jews.”
If authorities attempt to arrest him, however, Abu-Masuh says he is ready to kill the Americans, and himself, but not their guide because Abu-Masuh says he would not harm an Egyptian who, “is innocent and just working to make money for his family.”
Abu-Masuh says his uncle’s charges, drug smuggling among others, are fabricated. According to Abu-Masuh the weakness of the charges is llustrated by the fact that the policemen who arrested him offered to release him for 500,000LE, though this has not been confirmed. Since his uncle does not have that money, Abu-Masuh says, his uncle is in jail, “these are Mubarak-era police.”
Abu-Masuh’s demands include the immediate freedom of his uncle, and the prosecution of the police officer who tried to extort his uncles for money for his release.
Abu-Masuh says is will to give the police a deadline of 9 AM tomorrow morning or he will “do something”.
He said Al-Ganzoury and chief of intelligence called him, and they asked him to release the hostages but Abu-Masuh is tying the fate of his uncle to his kidnapped guests.
“My uncle has heart issues, diabetes and metal plates in his back, so if he dies in prison, these hostages will be killed. If he is sentenced to 25 years I will keep them for 25 years.”
Sinai activist Ahmed Abu Thira’, says that Abu-Masuh himself has been sentenced to 100 years in prison (four life sentences) for charges including drug smuggling but could not comment on the veracity of the charges or why he is not currently serving his time.
In regards to his sentence, Abu-Masuh said, “One hundred year sentence means I will be released when I am 132. I will be dead before I am released anyways.”
Abu Thira’ said he spoke to the three hostages yesterday to make sure they were ok, and claims they are “safe and fine.”
Daily News Egypt asked to speak to the hostages and was told no by Abu-Masuh, because he “cannot speak to his uncle.”