Arab Billionaire Paid $3-Million Ransom for Brother : Kidnap Victim Escapes Still Chained to His Bed
The kidnaped brother of a billionaire Arab ambassador escaped from captivity Friday after a $3-million ransom was paid, dragging behind him the bed to which he had been chained, police said.
Mohammed Sadik Tajir, 44, stumbled from a house in south London at about 10:30 a.m. and pounded on the door of a nearby house.
“To my astonishment when I opened the door, I saw a fine-looking gentleman in pajamas padlocked to a bed,” said Iris Harlow, the resident of the home. “The police descended in hordes, cut him free and took him away.”
Drugged and Blindfolded
Assistant Police Commissioner John Dellow said Tajir was kidnaped in the street Jan. 6 by as many as four Arabs and was held chained by his arms and legs in a squalid, windowless bedroom in a home in the London suburb of West Norwood. Tajir said he was drugged and forced to wear a blindfold during most of his captivity, Dellow said.
The victim owns a travel agency opposite Harrods department store in London. He is the brother of the United Arab Emirates’ ambassador to Britain, Sayed Mohammed Tajir. Ambassador Tajir, who began work as a customs clerk in Dubai, made his fortune in oil trading and is reputedly worth $2.5 billion. He has claimed to be the world’s richest man.
The day after Tajir disappeared, his brother was contacted by a man who said he was an intermediary for the kidnapers, a Scotland Yard statement said.
The intermediary, shadowed at every step by detectives, flew to New York, Geneva, Rome and Beirut to conduct negotiations with the ambassador in London by telephone. He originally relayed a demand for 50 million pounds--$71.5 million--but the ransom was lowered to $3 million as negotiations progressed, police said.
Cashed in Beirut
The statement said that after the family approved the ransom payment, the ambassador’s nephew traveled to Europe with a bank draft for $3 million and gave it to the intermediary, who was followed and identified by detectives.
The bank draft was cashed in Beirut on Thursday, according to the statement.
There have been no arrests, but Dellow said, “We know where (the intermediary) is and hope to interview him in due course.”
Dellow said Tajir awoke early Friday to find a note in Arabic beside him which said: “You are going to be released. Stay very quiet. Don’t shout for help. When the time comes, you will be released. If you shout for help, you will be dead.”
Tajir remained quiet until 10:30 a.m., then managed to drag the bed to which he had been chained downstairs and out the front door, said Dellow.
“The victim is in reasonable health and was not maltreated, apart from being chained up,” Dellow said. “He was kept sedated throughout.”
News of the abduction was withheld from the public under a voluntary media blackout that London police requested in hopes of convincing the captors that they had not been informed.