A 29-year-old mother has pulled off a daring rescue of her daughter in Egypt after her husband took the child from their home in England two years ago.
Alex Abou-El-Ella reportedly enlisted the help of author Donya Al-Nahi who has been described in the media as “Jane Bond” for her past rescue missions of children of British mothers abducted by their foreign-born fathers.
The two found out the pre-school where Abou El-Ella’s daughter Mona was enrolled and the apartment block where the now three-year-old was living.
She and her helper Al-Nahi hired a driver, arrived at the village Kafr el-Dawwar in the Nile Delta and staked out the apartment complex early one morning. They saw Mona walking with a woman and another child.
“I was walking behind them, faster and faster, and saw Mona’s hand a few metres away from me,” Abou-El-Ella said, according to Sunday People. “So I grabbed her, pulled her into my arms and the lady looked at my face – but all she could see were my eyes. She started screaming and fell over on the floor. She even left her son to one side and screamed.”
“I had Mona in my arms and ran to the car. But the door was locked. It’s automatic so when the car stops it’s locked and I couldn’t open it. I was panicking but Donya managed to open it and pull Mona in. She then pulled me in but we couldn’t close the door and I felt the woman breathing on my back. I just screamed, ‘Drive.’”
As they made their way back to Cairo, Abou-El-Ella worried they would be arrested at the airport, but they reportedly used the Polish passport of her other daughter Olivia to keep Mona’s Egyptian surname secret and then bribed an official to board a London-bound flight unchecked. They arrived safely at Heathrow, where they switched to Mona’s own passport to enter the UK legally.
Abou-El-Ella has since been in touch with her Egyptian-born husband Mustafa to let him know where Mona is.
Recalling when Mona was originally taken, Abou-El-Ella said, “The police said he went straight to the airport, bought a ticket and boarded the plane. Mona was named on his Egyptian passport but by law each individual has to have their own travel documents and hers were at home.”
“I want to know how he managed to get through border control at Heathrow without proper ones,” Abou-El-Ella said added. “If a child buys cigarettes they ask for ID – but when a child is taken through border control they don’t seem to care.”
British authorities had told her that they were powerless to get Mona back, while her estranged husband at times threatened her over the phone that he would never allow her to see Mona again.
Al-Nahi reportedly did not take money for her services and was motivated only by the principle, saying “You only have one mother and no one has a right to take you away from your mum. But Alex was the real hero here. She took the girl.”