AUC student escapes captors

Student kidnapped by his driver and accomplice safely returns to his family
Thursday, March 10th, 2011
Kamal ElLeithy

Photo courtesy of Ahmed Hassan

An AUC student who had been kidnapped early Wednesday has been returned to the custody of his family less than 24 hours later.

Kamal Elleithy was being held for a ransom of EGP 1 million, which according to relatives was not paid to the kidnappers, as Elleithy managed to escape from the city of Tanta, where he was being held.

According to a close relative, Elleithy's abduction began on his way to a Family Transport drop pick up point in 6th of October city. His driver reportedly stopped to pick up a "friend," who pulled out a knife upon entreating the car, and told Elleithy he was being kidnapped and held for ransom.

The student was then taken to a home in Tanta, and kept there for several hours. The abductors, both of whom have previous criminal records, then had a falling out. Elleithy's driver took him away and offered to return him to his family, and even split the money he expected to receive with him, provided that Elleithy not reveal that the driver was his abductor.

Elleithy was then left unattended in the car for a while, during which he managed to escape. He flagged down a passing car, which took him to the nearest army checkpoint. He was able to contact his family, and his father picked him up late that night.

"An interior designer stopped and drove me to the Gharbiya Security Precinct," Elleithy told The Caravan in a written statement. "He helped me contact my father, even at one point bringing me food."

Elleithy's mother denied earlier reports that the family met with university administrators Wednesday evening, according to Karim El Houshy, a friend of Elleithy's who was present at the family home awaiting his friend's return.

Professor Neda Kessas from the English Language Institute, who had taught Elleithy two semesters ago, expressed shock and concern upon hearing news of his kidnapping.

"I can only imagine what his parents are going through," she said. "I am very surprised that the University has not commented though and seems to be in denial that any of these incidents are happening."

The AUC administration issued a statement Thursday evening, which implied that Elleithy's kidnapping, and the attack on a female student earlier this week, are isolated incidents and should not be cause for alarm.

The female AUC student, who wished to remain anonymous, was also attacked outside AUC's gates earlier this week. The student reportedly suffered scratches to her face and arms, and her shirt was torn. The student has declined to be interviewed by The Caravan.

These reports have been cause for concern amongst staff and students. An online petition to temporarily suspend classes, which has now gathered over 1,000 signatures, has begun circulating among students, who are demanding greater safety measures. Their demands include increased security presence near dorms, security personnel presence on university buses, and free access to safe parking spots within AUC's campus.

Student's are also demanding the university adopt the Ramadan time schedule, which would significantly shorten the duration of classes, allowing students and staff to leave campus before nightfall.

But the statement has been met with anger by many students, who feel the university is not doing enough to ensure their safety.

"There is a failure in communication between AUC and its students, the administration always seem to be one step behind," said Omar El Adl, a political science senior.

Several student groups, including members of the Student Union and Student Judicial board, have told The Caravan that they have met with administration and security personnel, but have not yet received a clear answer as to whether their demands for tighter security measures will be met.

University administrators have announced that a university wide safety forum will be held March 13.