Thursday, June 19, 2014

Ghaziyya the Strangler

In his book about urban crime in the Mamluk Sultante, Carl Petry includes an account of the murderous gang of Ghaziyya the Strangler, which operated in Cairo in the 1260's:
This Ghaziyya had repeatedly lured men and women to her home with the prospect of sex.  Once there, her accomplices strangled them.  The enticer employed an effective ruse: possessed of beauty and charm, she promenaded freely throughout Cairo, chaperoned by an elderly female companion.  When Ghaziyya was approached by a prospective customer, the elderly female companion acted as her interlocutor.  She refused any public liaison on the grounds that it would be improper, but she then set up the covert encounter with assurances of its enhanced delights.
The temptress's stratagem went awry after two vagabonds killed one of her victims, and then followed by murdering one of her accomplices.  After the murder of the first victim, (elderly companion-intermediary) contacted a bridal escort who had routinely retrieved apparel and valuables taken from the victims to re-sell to prospective brides (she presumably divided her profit with the enticer and her accomplices.)  But on this occasion, Ghaziyya's vagabond accomplices violated the arrangement by murdering the escort as well.  The bridal escort's servant (girl) then foiled the plan, for when the escort failed to return home, her slave became alarmed.  Showing remarkable courage and loyalty, the servant went alone to the safe house to inquire about her mistress.  When told the bridal escort had already left, the slave sought the police chief and brought him to the murder site. 
The chief arrested Ghaziyya and her accomplices, who confessed under torture.  They disclosed a pit under the house that contained the remains of numerous victims; a local bricklayer had connived with them to build the pit and inter the victims.  The police chief had this bricklayer burned alive in his own kiln.  Ghaziyya and her accomplices, five in number, were crucified.  While the men were suspended until they died, Ghaziyya was released and expired two days later.

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