U.S. Embassy Says Five Americans Jailed in Egypt, Accused of Missionary Work
By NEJLA SAMMAKIA, Associated Press Writer
U.S. Embassy sources said Friday that five Americans have been jailed
by authorities for 11 days, apparently under suspicion of illegally
trying to convert Egyptians to a religious cult.
Three American women said their husbands were detained even though
Egyptian officials know they do not belong to the "Children of God," an
organization founded in California in 1968 that moved to Europe in the
Carl Mobacher, Thomas Pasquarello and John Weed are among five
Americans the U.S. Embassy said have been held since being arrested before dawn
Oct. 7 at their homes in Alexandria.
The U.S. Embassy said in an official statement that it hoped to win
release of the five soon. An embassy source said the men are thought to be
under suspicion of illegally proselytizing in Egypt.
Trying to convert people to other religions is forbidden under Egypt's
An unsigned news release from a group calling itself "Concerned
Americans in Cairo" said 19 foreigners, mostly Americans, were arrested in the
early-morning sweep in the Mediterranean port city.
The release, hand-delivered to The Associated Press, also spoke of
"unconfirmed reports of 17 arrests in Cairo" and said the arrests appear
"to be a crackdown on the Children of God." There was no way to verify
the accuracy of the statement.
The U.S. Embassy said in its statement that it "has been in close
contact with appropriate Egyptian officials to urge the expeditious
consideration of the case. Of the Americans originally detained, we understand
that five remain under detention."
Embassy officials refused to say where the five were held or whether
charges had been filed.
The wives of Morbacher, Pasquarello and Weed told the AP that their
husbands were in a state security jail in downtown Cairo, and that the
Embassy had not been notified of any charges being filed.
The women said Egyptian security officers told them their husbands
would be released Monday.
Yvonne Morbacher of Minneapolis, Minn., said that at 2 a.m. on Oct. 7,
security agents "ransacked our house completely, looking for tapes,
books, any kind of material, anything that could show that were part of a
She said all three families belong to a legal Protestant church in
After waiting until morning at a police station, she said, they were
joined by their friends, the Pasquarellos of Harrisburg, Pa., and the
Weeds of Birmingham, Ala.
She said they were among 11 adults and 10 children, including a British
man and two French women, who were then packed into a police truck and
driven 138 miles to Cairo.
Mrs. Morbacher said that after several hours of questioning, she heard
an official translating for her say in Arabic: "I think we've made a
She said it was clear from the questioning that they were suspected of
belonging to the "Children of God" cult. "The interrogators began to
realize that the three of us didn't know anything about this group.
"So, the very first night when we were questioned, they said we were
innocent. Our husbands were also cleared the first night and the
following morning, though later in the week they were questioned again," she
Mrs. Pasquarello said her translator said the three couples were
arrested because their names had been given to police by a "foreign
"I have no idea who or why," she said. "The only reason we knew each
other is that we were members of the community church (in Alexandria)."
Mrs. Morbacher said her husband, who comes from Philadelphia, Pa.,
works in Alexandria as a hydrologist. Ruth Weed said her husband teaches
English in Alexandria, and Crystal Pasquarello's husband is a doctor's
assistant at an Alexandria hospital. All three families came to Egypt in
The women said their passports were impounded, but they were released
with orders to stay in Cairo until investigations were completed. The
men were ordered held for further questioning, they said.
A state security official said the case was being handled by the
security prosecutor's office. There was no response to telephone calls to the
The "Children of God" cult was founded by 65-year-old David Berg, known
to his followers as David Moses.
Berg's philosophy mixes apocalyptic warnings of the downfall of the
world's economies and governments with enthusiastic endorsement of
communal sex among his followers.