Freed Boston Pastor Michel Louis 'Thanks God' After Egyptian Hostage Ordeal
The Rev. Michel Louis is thanking God after being released from a three-day hostage situation in the Northern Sinai Peninsula of Egypt.
CNN reporter Mohamed Fadel Fahmy spoke with Louis shortly after his release on Monday. Louis reported that he was feeling somewhat tired, and all he could say was "thank God' for his and his fellow hostages' safe release.
Gen. Ahmed Bakr, head of security in North Sinai, told CNN Monday that Louis, along with fellow hostages Lisa Alphonse and their Egyptian tour guide are now in the protection of Egyptian security officials in Sinai.
"They are at security headquarters with us now, in good condition. The negotiations succeeded, but we did not give in to the kidnappers' demands," Bakr told CNN Monday.
Details of the exact negotiations between hostage-taker Jirmy Abu-Masuh and Egyptian authorities have yet to be released.
Louis of Boston, Mass., and his fellow Christian parishioner and Boston resident, 39-year-old Lisa Alphonse, were kidnapped along with their Egyptian tour guide on Friday, July 13 by Jirmy Abu-Masuh, an Egyptian Bedouin.
Like us on Facebook
Abu-Masuh told The Associated Press he would release the hostages once his 62-year-old uncle was released from prison.
Abu-Masuh claimed that his uncle was arrested a week ago after failing to bribe Egyptian authorities who stopped him while he was, according to Abu-Masuh, innocently traveling through the Sinai Peninsula.
Egyptian authorities refused to release Abu-Masuh's uncle until he served the mandatory 15-day sentence for possession of drugs. Abu-Masuh continues to insist, however, that his uncle is innocent and was arrested for failing to bribe the police.
Louis, 61, was on a pilgrimage to retrace Jesus' steps through the Holy Land with 23 other members of his congregation, the Free Pentecostal Church of God, when he was kidnapped on Friday while en route between Cairo and Mt. Sinai.
An armed Abu-Masuh allegedly boarded Louis's bus and took the two tourists and their tour guide hostage.
The U.S. State Department got involved shortly after, telling Fox News on Sunday that it was "aware" of the kidnappings and would be working with Egyptian officials to free the hostages and "provide assistance as needed."
Additionally, an Egyptian security source told Reuters on Sunday that they would be enlisting local delegates to negotiate with Abu-Masuh.
"A high-level security delegation has been formed in addition to some tribal sheiks to enter direct negotiations with the kidnappers to end the crisis in a peaceful manner," the source told Reuters.
Tensions were especially heightened as Abu-Masuh threatened to kill the hostages, should his uncle not be released, the New York Daily News reported.
Additionally, the Rev. Jean Louis, son of the abducted Michel Louis, said that his father had access to natural medicine, but had left his insulin medication, meant to treat diabetes, on the bus while being kidnapped.
In spite of the continued angst regarding the Americans' fate, the Free Pentecostal Church of God congregation has remained faithful for their pastor and parishioner's safe return, holding a prayer vigil for them on Sunday.
"We're in good spirits because we know the God that we serve is in control of the matter," the Rev. Jean Louis said in a press conference Saturday.
This is the third time in 2012 that Americans have been kidnapped in the Sinai Peninsula.