Missing Princess Sheikha Latifa's best friend reveals terrifying moment they were ambushed while fleeing DubaiDecember 7, 2018
It's now been nine months since she was seen – and it's believed she may be back in Dubai.
Here, her best friend and martial arts teacher Tiina Jauhiainen bravely speaks to Sun Online about their failed escape.
I could taste the salt as he dangled me over the water and shouted: "Take your last breath before we shoot your brains out."
Paralysed with fear, I could heard the screams of my best friend Latifa who was being held at the other end of the boat, fighting for freedom.
It didn't feel real. Just ten minutes earlier we were preparing for bed in the cabin, excited for our new adventure after fleeing Dubai and Latifa's father – who she said had imprisoned and tortured her for years.
We'd left Dubai in the early morning and caught a dinghy from the coast of Oman, sailing 15 miles out to sea in a meticulously planned escape that was set to cost us £315,000.
Once there, we met a contact, ex-French spy and Dubai escapee Herve Jaubert, who took us via jet ski to the boat we were now being attacked on.
That night on March 4th 2018, we had prepared for bed in our shared cabin on board the Nostromo yacht. I remember I had just brushed my teeth when we heard something that sounded like gun shots.
We cowered in the small cabin bathroom and locked the door behind us when the commotion upstairs began. I don't know how much time passed in there, but slowly smoke started to fill the room.
The military had tracked us down – they knew Latifa and I were somewhere in the boat, and they had thrown the smoke grenades in to flush us out. It worked, we couldn't breathe.
Holding hands tightly, we moved towards the noise not knowing what might be waiting – but when we arrived on the upper deck, soldiers were already pointing their guns at us.
We did as we were told and dropped to the floor and they tied my hands together. There was a commotion and we were separated to opposite ends of the boat.
The guard who had me hissed: "If you move or speak, or open your eyes, I will kill you."
I stayed completely frozen in fear, Latifa kicked and screamed as she begged for help. There was nothing I could do – with every breath they threatened me.
"I will shoot your brains out if you move," one said.
A man boarded the boat and looked at Latifa, before saying: "That's her." He took her away as she screeched: "I'd rather you shoot me here than take me back to Dubai."
That was nine months ago. Since then, nobody has seen or heard from her.
Myself and Herve were taken back to Dubai and interrogated for two weeks, with the authorities trying to blame me for Latifa's kidnap, saying I encouraged her.
Luckily, after years of being too scared to speak out, she had recorded a video at my apartment the week before that accused her dad of ordering numerous murders and tortures.
Latifa sent it to her lawyer to be released in if she disappeared – which it was a week after she went missing.
Now that same video, which has accumulated 1.5 million views on YouTube, is at the heart of my campaign to find my best friend.
I'm now back in London working on the Free Latifa Campaign, which I hope will raise awareness of her situation and help her be returned.
I don't worry too much about my safety, even though Detained in Dubai are worried about what the Emerati government might do. I'm cautious but I'm definitely not scared. I just want people to know about Latifa.
'I will never give up'
Today, I miss her more than ever. It was her birthday on December 5th and I felt empty without her here to celebrate.
Latifa would always say that I was the ying to her yang. It was just two real best friends. Not everyone could understand that and speculated we were lovers, but we were family. She didn’t have real family.
I have so many good memories of times with Latifa, but the ones I appreciate the most were the simple things. Some days we would sit and watch the birds or the sunset.
She didn’t have any knowledge of the world because she hadn’t travelled, so in some ways I was her only link to everything out there. Once our plan of escape was in place she even asked me how an airport worked, and I couldn't help but laugh.
I didn’t get to say any last words to her. In that moment, with the guns poking at my head, I couldn’t think. But if I could talk to her now, I’d just tell her that I love her and that I will never give up on finding her.
Escape from Dubai: The Mystery of the Missing Princess will air tonight on BBC2 at 9pm
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