Unknown donor paid ransom to rescue 3 kidnapped missionaries in Haiti, group says

The Ohio-based Ministry of Christian Aid (CAM) said three missionaries kidnapped in Haiti were released last month after an unidentified donor paid a ransom to a Haitian gang that kidnapped them.

The 400 Mawzo gang initially kidnapped 17 missionaries in October and released two of them for medical reasons in November. The gang then demanded $1 million for the release of the remaining 15 hostages. An undisclosed donor paid an undisclosed amount to the gang as part of an agreement to release the remaining prisoners.

However, the gang released only three missionaries on 5 December. CAM stated that there is an internal conflict within the gang, so all the hostages were not released as per the agreement.

It was not until 16 December that the remaining 12 were issued. According to a column in New York yonkers times, an unnamed source said, the gang left the door, allowing the captive missionaries to be released as part of a ransom deal.

CAM said members of the organizations did not know who the unknown donor was or how much was paid to release the missionaries. All they know is that the donor is not affiliated with CAM.

CAM Executive Committee member Philip Mast said he had a “no ransom policy” during the period of the kidnapping. However, the group accepted a proposal made by the donor to “negotiate and deal with the situation … and handed it over to another party to deal with it,” he said.

On Wednesday, activists from the Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries Organization confirmed that an unidentified man paid a ransom to a Haitian gang, resulting in the release of three of their kidnapped associates as part of a settlement that included all 15 The members were freed. Captive group in early December. Above, a banner for the freed hostages is displayed at Christian Aid Ministries on Monday, December 20, 2021 in Berlin, Ohio.
Tom E. Pusker/AP Photo

The accounts of former hostages and other CAM employees, in recently recorded conversations with church groups and others, are the first public acknowledgment from the organization that at any time since the October 16 abduction of 16 Americans and a Canadian affiliated with CAM. The ransom was paid.

CAM officials acknowledged at a press conference on 20 December that an unaffiliated party had offered to pay the ransom money, but at the time they declined to say that the payment had been made.

In subsequent comments, officials said the group had in principle opposed the cash ransom, although it had offered boxes of food that were rejected by the captors. Eventually, CAM accepts a third party’s offer to negotiate with the gang.

“Yes, the ransom was paid, but I don’t think[the gang members]intended to release the prisoners,” Mast said.

His and others’ accounts, which the Associated Press accessed this week, are archived at PlainNews.org, an online news source for conservative Anabaptists such as Mennonites, Amish and Brethren, including CAM activists and supporters.

Austin Smucker, one of the former hostages, said in a recorded conversation that after the release of the three hostages on December 5, a gang member “promised that we would all be home in the next few days”, but this did not happen. . ,

Barry Grant, CAM field director in Titanian, Haiti, said the hostages “combatted” the deal.

Both Smucker and Grant said they learned that the gang members refused to release all the hostages in order to force the Haitian government to free their imprisoned leader.

The man, whom the newspaper described as someone with “direct and detailed knowledge” of the matter, said that if the gang had not allowed them to leave, someone reported to have fled before they could safely arrive. Will be

However, former hostages continue to say in detailed and consistent accounts that they fled during a narrow window of opportunity for fear of being caught or shot again. He said recent rains prompted guards to gather in a more sheltered part of the house, from where the hostages opened a barricaded door and began an overnight trek for miles through mud, thorns and mountainous terrain. went out for

He also described what he characterized as a divine salvation, adding that a guard was miraculously blinded to evidence of tampering with the door despite looking straight, and that neither the villagers nor the Nor did the dogs react when they moved into the gang-controlled area.

A CAM spokesperson declined further comment. Haitian police have declined to comment on the kidnapping, and gang leaders have not been interviewed.

The US State Department declined to comment other than thanking “our Haitian and international partners as well as US interagency for their assistance in facilitating their safe release.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.