Egyptian Woman Jailed in Child Custody Kidnap Case

The Egyptian grandmother accused of helping her daughter abduct her two small boys from their home in Maryland to Cairo a year ago has been arrested and jailed in California.

Afaf Nassar Khalifa was thrown in prison earlier this week after being served with a governor’s warrant from Maryland mandating she be seized and held, a source close to the investigation said.

The source told Fox News Khalifa was charged in connection with the abduction of 5-year-old Adam and 1-year-old Jason Shannon, the sons of Michael Shannon of Baltimore and his estranged Egyptian wife, Nermeen.

San Diego District Attorney Robert Locke, the prosecutor in the case, read the warrant to the courtroom. "She did not pass ‘Go’ or collect $200. She went right to jail," said a source, who requested anonymity.

Maryland law enforcement authorities plan to travel to California in the coming week and extradite Khalifa to Maryland, where the alleged kidnapping took place, the source said.

"Our extradition people are going to get together and get her next week," the source said. "She had ample time to turn herself over to us, and she’s made no effort. She could get those kids back with one phone call."

Khalifa and her daughter, Nermeen Shannon, took the two small boys to New York and then flew them to Cairo during what was supposed to be only a brief, court-approved visit.

Michael Shannon, 41, had full custody of his sons when they were taken. His wife had lost custody in 2001 after the pair separated and she was charged with child abuse.

He hasn’t seen his children in the year since they were abducted. He believes they were kidnapped because their grandfather, a wealthy and influential Cairo businessman with four daughters and four granddaughters, wanted male heirs.

The latest news gives Shannon some hope his sons will be returned, after months of difficult dealings with federal agencies and battles with his wife’s family.

"I do have hope they’ll come back," Shannon said. "As long as she sits out there in California, I can start working on a deal with my wife. It’s a big step."

Khalifa was first arrested on kidnapping conspiracy charges earlier in the summer in southern California, where her family owns a house. She was released after posting $25,000 bail.

The state of Maryland had 90 days from the time of her first arrest to produce a governor’s warrant for a subsequent arrest leading to her extradition. Authorities have offered to drop all charges against her if she would release the children to their father.

"I don’t think my wife’s family will let their queen sit in jail," Shannon said. "All I want is my two pawns back, and they can keep the queen."

The source and Shannon believe the media attention given to the case helped expedite the processing of the governor’s warrant. The story first ran on July 8 and in a segment on Fox News Channel’s Hannity and Colmes on July 12.

Sources said Khalifa’s family has warned her political connections to U.S. and Egyptian government officials will ensure she’ll be set free.

"Apparently, she has some political pull," the source said. "But if she gets out of jail down there, they’ll have a lot of explaining to do. I don’t think that’s going to happen. We’ll see how it all pans out."