x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Trader held captive for Dh1.4m ransom

Dubai police freed a man who had been held captive for a ransom of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

DUBAI // Kidnappers demanding a Dh1.4 million ransom tied up a businessman in a locked room and tortured him for four days before he was rescued in a dramatic police raid.

Officers from a special incident team used the sound of morning prayers from a nearby mosque to cover their movements as they burst into the apartment in Ajman where Omar Abdullah, 45, a Sudanese trader, was being held, and surprised his abductors as they slept.

Mr Abdullah told police his captors - a former business partner, his brother and two other relatives - had given him only a little bread and a few drops of water each day to keep him alive. "I felt that everything was over and I was going to die," he said.

The businessman's ordeal began on the evening of October 30 outside his building in Al Baraha. On his way to dinner, he was stopped by one of the kidnappers, a uniformed security guard.

"He was taken into a tinted-window car and was threatened with a knife, which was directed to his stomach," Lt Col Ahmad Al Merri, director of the criminal investigations unit of Dubai Police, said yesterday.

Mr Abdullah was taken to a newly built flat in Al Nua'aimiya area of Ajman, where he was tied up and locked in a room.

The kidnappers contacted his wife in Sudan and told her they would kill Mr Abdullah unless she paid a ransom of $400,000. Meanwhile the businessman was abused, beaten and burnt with an iron.

Unable to raise the ransom money, Mr Abdullah's wife asked a relative in Dubai to report the kidnap.

"We were informed on November 1, two days after the incident. A highly skilled team of 30 officers was immediately formed," Lt Col Al Merri said.

Mr Abdullah's wife told police that while her husband was with her in Sudan about a week before the kidnap, she had overheard him having an argument over the phone.

"She gave us the name of the person and said her husband had told her that he kept calling to harass him," Lt Col Al Merri said. "The surname of that person was very unusual, so we made a search on him and found him."

Surveillance led them to the Ajman apartment, which a joint team from Dubai Police and Ajman Police raided while the kidnappers were still sleeping.

"We decided to carry out the operation during the morning prayer so its sound, from a nearby mosque, would cover up the sound of our movements," said Lt Col Al Merri.

"They tried to resist us but did not succeed, as we had surprised them," he said.

The officer said the leader of the gang was a former business partner of Mr Abdullah. "The business failed and he started asking Mr Abdullah to pay him about $200,000."

Three of the kidnappers have financial cases, including bounced cheques, registered against them, said Lt Col Al Merri.

Four men are in police custody in connection with the kidnapping, and have been referred to public prosecution.

wissa@thenational.ae