Queens Man Arrested In Egypt & Accused Of Being An Israeli Spy

Man's Mother Says Son Is No Spy, 'Just An Ordinary College Student'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The family of a Hollis Hills, Queens man caught up in an international spy case is hoping for their son’s safe release.

Ilan Grapel, 27, was arrested in Egypt on Wednesday and accused of being an Israeli agent who tried to sabotage the Egyptian revolution.

Grapel’s mother, Irene, told CBS 2’s John Metaxas that her son is just a law student from Emory University who started an internship volunteering for a refugee organization just last month. She said she is “asking for prayers from anybody.”

“We want our son home safely. He’s just an ordinary college student. He’s not involved in any untoward activities,” Grapel’s mother said.

Grapel’s parents called the United States consulate in Cairo Sunday night and got a duty officer on the case — and eventually their son on the phone.

“He sounded okay. He sounded good. I said ‘are you being treated well?’ He said ‘I’m being treated well’ and that was good to hear, and it was good to hear his voice,” Irene Grapel said.

However, the State Department said that its function in the case is limited.

“I believe now that they’ve got a number of days to carry out an investigation and elaborate on the charges against him,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner said.

The Grapels had hoped Ilan would not make the trip.

daniel and irene grapel Queens Man Arrested In Egypt & Accused Of Being An Israeli Spy

Daniel and Irene Grapel (credit: CBS 2)

“We did our best to discourage him,” his mother said.

“Maybe he’s a little bit careless about going into a situation,” Grapel’s father, Daniel, said.

Grapel’s parents said that their son has always been a driven person. His father showed Metaxas his son’s military awards that were earned as a volunteer who was wounded in combat with the Israeli Army.

According to friends and family, Grapel has learned Arabic and has a passion for Arab culture.

“It’s overwhelming because you are dealing with an area of the world you are not familiar with and you just don’t know what the next step is going to be,” Irene Grapel said.

The Grapels said they are willing to go to Egypt if needed. For now, however, they are sending their prayers half way around the world hoping their son be released.

Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.

More from John Metaxas
  • Mitchell

    For all those who protest too much about joining the IDF, I hate to spoil your party, but a) Ilan Grapel did NOTHING against AMERICAN law by obtaining Israeli citizenship or by enlisting in the IDF. Neither of these actions makes him lose his American citizenship or rights as an American citizen, as America recognizes dual citizenship (not just with Israel, but many countries) and fighting for an allied army (yes, Israel is an ally of America, according to the American government, State Dept., CIA, and all other American governmental institutions, while Hezbollah is recognized as a terror organization) b) to those who call Grapel a “loser” for joining the IDF, I dare say he has seen more combat then those of you calling him a “loser” and has more guts in his finger than you do in your whole body….

  • sk

    i can’t believe in some of t5hese horible comments people have to say! many jews who go to the middle east happen to be leftists who often defend teh palestinians! there are more leftists who feel the same way about israel than mnay of these commentatotors that wind up in trouble! My heart goes out to this poor family! I hope your son can be released soon PEACEFULLY! also to those horrible commentaotors: YOU be the one who should be caught in to trouble left alone in these countries before you say your discusting comments!

    • Mike K Johnson

      Any one that supports the terror state of Israel should get what they deserve. This guy did not belong in Egypt in the first place. Egypt as a sovereign country, has every right to protect its citizens and its borders.

      He is an adult man who made the decision to go and join the terror Israeli army. He knew what he was getting himself into. No one should feel bad for this guy or his family. We Americans have been fooled for so long by the anti-Semitic non-sense and we are tired and sick of it…

      There are many good Jews who disagree with what Israel does and we all have friends who are Jews, but no one should have a Zionist friend that supports the terror state of Israel.

      It’s amazing how the Zionists always play with the anti-Semitic card and try and fool everyone that they are victims when in reality, they suck the living blood out of every human being.

  • Micha

    I hope Ilan is allowed to return home soon. Lucky for him he is being help in a country like Egypt and not some place like Iran.

  • PMM

    One MIGHT think that after what the arabs did to this country on 9/11, Americans would be staunch supporters of Israel (and MANY are!) but as we can see from many of the comments posted here, for some, their anti-Semitism far outweighs their common sense.
    And, by the way, one CAN serve in a foreign army without jeopardizing one’s American citizenship, IF that country is an ally and not an enemy of the U.S. Any of you remember how many American airmen served in the R.A.F. (British Air Force) to fight the nazis, before America got into WW2!?!

    • Micha

      While I am far from an antisemite and don’t have any problem with Jews themselves, I do have a MAJOR problem with the state of Israel. The way they treat Palestine and it’s people is disgusting and archaic and they should be held responsible for their actions. Also, many believe that our continued alliance and support of Israel has led to the strong antiAmerican sentiment in the Middle East. Israel is just a big bully!

    • Mike K Johnson

      Here we go with the anti-Semitic broken record…not all Arabs are bad people. They are human just like the rest of us. They have the good and the bad.

      Why should we Americans empathize with the terror state of Israel that kills innocent children every single day and that also spies on us (look up Jonathan Pollard). Enough with the anti-Semitic non sense. We had enough of that and we can no longer be fooled by it.

      Which is more important or has higher priority, defending your country (America) that is in a war or joining an ally’s army (Israel) that spies on your country and attacks its army (USS Liberty incident) or do you not know about that!!!!!!!! Look it up.

      I hope Egypt sets the record straight with this kid and make an example of him so that other spies think twice before spying for the terror state of Israel.

  • The Jaundiced Eye

    ‘Ordinary college student’ my ass!

    • Mike K Johnson

      An ordinary spy, that is….

  • Mike K Johnson

    As Americans, Are we supposed to feel bad for this kid? Hell no, I’m not. He is an American who joined another country’s army and goes and spies on another. Let him pay the price. I don’t want my hard earned tax money spent to defend this loser.
    Instead of joining the U.S. Army and be among his fellow Americans this loser goes and joins the Israeli army. What a loser. Wake up America and know who your real enemy is.
    The sovereign state of Egypt should do whatever it takes to protect its boarders and defend its citizens against the terror state of Israel.

    • Palin's Necklace

      HERE, HERE!!!!!!!!!!!

  • caleb goldfarb

    O Mother of Satan and followers of the the false perophet Mohammed. LET OUR PEOPLE GO.

  • Willy

    The article fails to report that this kid was in the Israeli army. As a US citizen he loses all rights to enlist in a foreign military group. Obviously he’s an Israeli/Jew nationalist/Zionist and needs to be treated as a spy.

    I wonder what the Israelis would do with an Egyptian student.

    • Jesus Saves Moses Forcloses

      Most definitely, this Jew MOUSSAD ZIONIST disserves what ever the sovereign state of Egypt metes out.
      Look at it this way, him and Jonathan Pollard could be pen pals now.

      • Mike K Johnson

        I agree

  • Susan

    Well, you all are very encouraging to these poor parents. Grapels, don’t listen to such negative talk. I have been to Egypt several times and I know the Egyptian people to be good people. Have faith and trust in God. I will be praying for your son’s safe return.

  • David Chodack

    A decxorated voluntewer in the Israeli milittary and hje was stupid enough to go to Egypt? Even with Mubarak in charge and a peaqce treaty in place, the Egyptians were a bunch of Israel-hating yahoos. Now, after the glorious revolution brought the military and the Muslim Brotherhood to power any American should know better than to go there, let alone a decorated vetreran of the Israeli military. The glorious Arab Sprinjg won’ty turn out well either for the Egyptians or the West, no matter what naive people choose to believe. The Islamists are losse and there’s no more Mubarak to contain them. Egypt is all but lost

    • working for the IDF

      I’d reply if I could even read your gibberyiddish.

  • Gregory

    Stay out of the Middle-East no matter your background. There is too much danger amid the termoil. If news and insight are desired, watch TV from the safety of the U.S. The “Fit is about to hit the Shan” especially in Egypt.

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