Matt Stout and Peter Gelzenis
The overjoyed family of a Dorchester minister freed yesterday three days after he and an Everett woman were kidnapped on a trip to Egypt's Mount Sinai say they are now eagerly awaiting his stateside return.
"He just told us that he loves us, he's safe and he's coming home," Nathanael Louis said of his father, the Rev. Michel Louis. Rev. Louis, along with Lissa Alphonse, a 39-year-old Everett mother of two, and their tour guide, were turned over to security officials yesterday. Their kidnapper -- identified by the Associated Press as Jirmy Abu-Masuh -- had abducted them in a bid to free his jailed uncle.
Chanting and cheering throughout the afternoon, Louis' family gathered at his Dorchester home, at one point receiving an emotional phone call from Louis himself confirming he was OK.
"I don't know how his health is," a beaming Rev. Jean Louis said of his father, noting concerns the family had about the well-being of the diabetic 61-year-old pastor. "Just by his voice, we can tell he's our normal father."
The family praised Massachusetts U.S. Sens. John Kerry and Scott Brown, who had been in touch with relatives since the onset of Friday's kidnapping and contacted U.S. officials in Egypt. Kerry also helped arrange yesterday's satellite phone call between Louis and his children.
"The thing was complicated by the fact that the Egyptians considered (Abu-Masuh's uncle) a high-level prisoner," Kerry told the Herald, adding that the new Egyptian government realized that "they don't need this kind of stuff broadcast all over the world."
Abu-Masuh, 32, told the AP that he had stopped the Americans' tour bus and ordered them to get off along with their tour guide and translator. But he also said he fed his prisoners, offered them tea and coffee, and let them sleep in his house, the AP reported.
Bishop Gideon Thompson of the Jubilee Christian Church said he "didn't sense" any anger amongst Louis' family toward the minister's captors, "but more horror that this kind of thing could happen."
"It was ill-advised and ill-planned," he said of the abduction.
City Councilor Charles Yancey said news of the Americans' release was met with "relief and gratitude" and that he has "every expectation" the city will make plans to honor their return.
"There will be great celebration in Boston," Yancey said.