Daily Israel Report

Family of Sinai Kidnap Victim: 'Seems Like a Nightmare'

The family of an American Christian pastor kidnapped by Bedouin in the Sinai Peninsula on Friday say they still can't believe it happened.
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 7/15/2012, 6:47 PM

Egyptian Army in Sinai
Egyptian Army in Sinai
Flash 90

The family of an American Christian pastor kidnapped by Bedouin in the Sinai Peninsula on Friday say they still can't believe it happened.

Jean Louis told CNN that his father, 61-year-old Pastor Michel Louis, was taken off a bus together with their Egyptian tour guide and whisked away by kidnappers.

The Massachusetts pastor, a diabetic, was with his wife at the time and had gone to visit Mt. Sinai before traveling towards Taba -- and Israel -- when the tour bus in which he was riding was blocked by a few cars.

“In the cars were some gentlemen who got on to the bus. They detained both my father… and another woman who was part of the group on their way to Israel,” the pastor's son said.

"Even now it seems like a dream to her – a nightmare,” Louis said of his mother.

The U.S. Embassy in Cairo is working with Egyptian officials to try to free the hostages.

Israel has repeatedly issued alerts to tourists against traveling in the Sinai Peninsula, warning of the dangers that one might be kidnapped. The U.S. government has likewise issued similar travel alerts, for the same reason.

Since the fall of the government of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, security in the Sinai Peninsula has been extremely lax, and Bedouin tribes have largely taken over control of the region.

A number of terrorist organizations have also established beachheads in the area, and have built strong ties with some of the Bedouin tribes who live there.

Americans and Israelis are both being targeted by the Lebanon-based Hizbullah terrorist organization, as well as the Global Jihad (Al Qaeda) terrorist movement, both of which have been operating in the region for some time.

Louis said his family was unaware of the dangers of the region, despite the fact that a number of Americans have been kidnapped there.

Two American tourists were kidnapped with their guide in the Sinai and immediately released in February. Two more were abducted in June, and freed a day later.

Egyptian authorities have said the three hostages are apparently still in the area, and being held as bargaining chips for the release of relatives of the Bedouin being held in custody.

"Continuing efforts are being made in order to determine the whereabouts of the Americans and the Egyptian tour guide on one hand, and to release them in coordination with tribal leaders and the families in the region,” EgyNews reported.