“I thought, thank God, I’m going to finally get out of here. I’m going to be free.”
12-year-old Niko Atteya, after his American mother rescued him from his Egyptian father by putting on a burqa and grabbing him at his bus stop in Alexandria, Egypt.
Kalli Atteya, 45, of Pennsylvania, said she married Mohammed Khalil Atteya in 1999, but he abandoned her soon after the birth of their son, Niko. After they divorced in 2005, her husband returned to Egypt. He lured Kalli and Niko there in August 2011 by saying his dying mother wanted to see her grandson. Then, on a desolate road between Cairo and Port Said, he dumped Kalli and her sister, and drove off with Niko so he could bring him up as a Muslim.
Kalli spent more than $100,000 to track him down to the city of Alexandria. In March, she dressed up in a burqa so she could blend in on the streets. When Niko got off a school bus, she moved quickly, grabbing his arm and steering him toward a waiting motorized cart. “Get in,” she said to the 12-year-old, who recognized his mother’s piercing blue eyes and obeyed wordlessly.
Soon, they were speeding toward a safehouse where they would wait for three weeks before returning to the U.S. …
“My Dad forced me to be Muslim, which I did not want to do,” Niko, said.
(According to the U.S. State Department in 2011 more than 1,300 children were abducted by a parent and taken from the United States to a foreign country.)