A desperate mother dressed head-to-toe in Islamic dress and hid her face behind a veil to carry out a daring mission to snatch her daughter back from the child's Egyptian father.
Alex Abou-El-Ella, 29, of Slough, Berkshire, risked everything to rescue her daughter Mona, three, two years after her husband spirited the girl out of Britain and took her to his home country.
She ignored Foreign Office warnings not to travel to the country, which is gripped by civil unrest, tracked down the child and disguised herself as a local to carry out the audacious rescue.
Her success was in large part thanks to the help of British author Donya Al-Nahi, who has been nicknamed Jane Bond for her efforts in helping a string of women rescue children snatched by Arab fathers.
Mrs Abou-El-Ella, who is still married to Mona's father, Mustafa, narrated the dramatic moment she snatched back her daughter in the Nile Delta city of Kafr el-Dawwar.
With the help of Scot-born Mrs Al-Nahi she had tracked down the nursery where Mona was enrolled and the block of flats where she was living with her father's family.
The pair, who had enlisted a trusted driver, sat staking out the block early in the morning until Mona appeared with an aunt and a boy just before 9am. That's when the desperate mother seized her moment.
Moving awkwardly in the unfamiliar Islamic dress in which she had disguised herself, she got out of the car and followed them.
'I was walking behind them, faster and faster, and saw Mona's hand a few metres away from me,' she said. 'So I grabbed her, pulled her into my arms and the lady looked at my face - but all she could see were my eyes.'
Embracing her child tightly, she turned and fled as the other woman began to scream.
Stumbling in the flowing black material of the burka, she had only seconds to bundle the astonished child into the back seat of her car - but was horrified to find the door was locked.
'I was panicking but Donya managed to open it and pull Mona in,' she said.
She managed to leap in as well before the woman, who she had just snatched Mona from, caught up with them, and they drove away.
It was then that the confused toddler - who had been away for some two years - cried out for help from the woman she knew as mummy, to Mrs Abou-El-Ella's dismay.
'I felt shocked and upset to hear those words coming out of her mouth about another woman,' she said. 'But after half an hour she looked up at me and said, "Are you my mum?"'
The next challenge was smuggling Mona back out of Egypt without alerting the country's authorities.
Mrs Abou-El-Ella, who was born in Poland but came to Britain as a teenager, used the Polish passport belonging to her older daughter to conceal Mona's Egyptian surname and bribed an official to allow her to board a London-bound flight.
The subterfuge worked, and they arrived back at Heathrow, using Mona's genuine passport to re-enter the UK legally. Mrs Abou-El-Ella has since contacted her husband to tell him that she has their child.
She met Mustafa when he was running a food stall in Slough, shortly after splitting from her former long-term partner and father of her eldest daughter Olivia, six.
They moved in together and wed in September 2009, three months before Mona was born, with the former Catholic converting to Islam, although she never practised the religion.
Mona was just a year old when Mustafa whisked her off to Egypt, giving his wife no warning of his intentions. He had simply told her he was taking the girl to visit friends. Instead, he had travelled straight to Heathrow airport, bought a ticket and boarded a flight.
Over the following two years, she had on-off contact with her daughter by phone - with communication becoming increasingly difficult as the child forgot English and began speaking more and more in Arabic.
And her husband would periodically threaten to cut off contact altogether, she said.
Police told her she could do nothing since the UK has no extradition treaty with Egypt.
It was only after a woman heard of her plight and contacted her to tip her off about Donya Al-Nahi, who has helped a string of mothers reunite with children snatched by Middle Eastern fathers, that she was given hope.