It turns out that Aunt N wasn't the one who answered her son's frantic call, but his ten year old brother, Ch. Ch picked up his mom's cell phone and heard Bilal screaming, "Wal, Ch tell mama they are taking me, they kidnapped me, leave me alone, leave me alone. Let me go!" Ten years old and having to live through this!
Anyways, the kidnappers called again today, and restated their demands for $25,000. Bilal's brother, A, started out at $12,000, telling them they couldn't pay more than that, but he quickly climbed up to $20,000. When I was in Baghdad during his two other relatives' kidnappings, A was doing the negotiations then. He was tough, he held hard to a much lower number than what the kidnappers were demanding. His sister screamed at him for putting her husband in a position of being killed, but he held hard, and it paid off in the end.
But with his own brother, he couldn't stay tough. My husband was telling me that A has been crying for his brother, and just melted in front of the negotiators. One day into it, and he couldn't hold out. After this call, a relative took the next call, and they agreed to paying $22,500. That's US dollars! It's more than Bilal's family can afford in their lifetimes, but if Bilal comes out safely, it's worth it. Anyways, hopefully tomorrow, inshaAllah, they will agree on the place of payment. Until Bilal is safe in their hands, no one can trust these kidnappers. So until then, we need everyone's prayers for his safety.
My hubby was telling me how tense it is in the house (he's staying at his aunt's, at Bilal's house). Everyone is screaming at each other. When my husband insisted that they stick to paying $12,000, before they had come to an agreement, his aunt yelled at him, "They'll kill Bilal." It's scary for everyone, because they're basically bartering for their son/brother's life. Maybe their insistence on a lower sum will save them thousands of dollars, and maybe it will kill their loved one. It's kind of funny, but Iraqi families have started talking about what they would do in the case of a kidnapping. My husband told me long ago, should anything happen to him, not to ever pay more than $10,000. I always tell him, whatever, but when it comes down to it, everyone loses their minds. Bilal's brother, A, was always the smooth, smart negotiator. But when it touched him directly in his home, in his heart, he melted. Aaakkhh.
Bilal has been sleeping in the same bedroom with my husband for the past month (a displaced family was staying at our house). Last night, my husband couldn't sleep, was emotional all night. He kept on thinking that Bilal was in the bed behind him, as he has been every night. But then he would realize that Bilal was in a cold, dark, uncomfortable place. Kaan Allah fee '3awnak ya Bilal, wa fakka 'asrak, wa raddaka ilayna saaliman ghaniman. Aameen.
InshaAllah, tomorrow, I will have good news to write.