rain.png
Friday July 1st, 2022 6:08PM

Ransom freed some missionary hostages in Haiti, workers say

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

An unidentified person paid a ransom that freed three missionaries kidnapped by a gang in Haiti under an agreement that was supposed to have led to the release of all 15 remaining captives early last month, workers for their Ohio-based organization have confirmed.

The person who made the payment was not affiliated with Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries, and the workers say they don't know who the individual is or how much was paid to the gang, which initially demanded $1 million per person. Internal conflicts in the gang, they say, led it to renege on a pledge to release all the hostages, freeing just three of them instead on Dec. 5.

The accounts from former hostages and other Christian Aid Ministries staffers, in recent recorded talks to church groups and others, are the first public acknowledgement from the organization that ransom was paid at any point following the Oct. 16 kidnapping of 16 Americans and a Canadian affiliated with CAM.

CAM officials had acknowledged at a news conference Dec. 20 that an unaffiliated party had offered to provide ransom money, but at the time they refused to say a payment had been paid.

In subsequent remarks, officials said the group had opposed paying cash ransom on principle, though it did make an offer of food boxes that the captors rejected. Eventually CAM accepted a third-party offer to negotiate with the gang.

“In the course of this whole thing, there was Christian Aid Ministries' no-ransom policy,” Philip Mast, a CAM Executive Committee member, said in a recent talk at Mt. Moriah Mennonite Church in Crossville, Tennessee.

But “there was a donor who offered to take the negotiations and deal with the situation, and so CAM accepted that offer, and it was turned over to another party to deal with it,” he continued. “Yes, there was ransom paid, but I don't think (the gang members) had the intention of releasing the prisoners.”

His and others' accounts, which The Associated Press gained access to this week, are archived at PlainNews.org, an online news source for conservative Anabaptists such as Mennonites, Amish and Brethren, who comprise the core of CAM workers and supporters.

One of the ex-hostages, Austin Smucker, said in a recorded talk that a gang member “promised that we were all going to be going home in the next few days” after the Dec. 5 release of three hostages, but that did not happen.

Barry Grant, CAM’s field director in Titanyen, Haiti, said the captors “reneged” on the deal.

Smucker and Grant both said they learned gang members refused to release all the hostages to try to force the Haitian government to free their imprisoned leader.

The 400 Mawozo gang seized the 17-member group of missionaries, which included young children, as they were traveling home from a visit to a CAM-supported orphanage in Ganthier, in the Croix-des-Bouquets area.

Two hostages were released in November for medical reasons, and the last 12 suddenly turned up Dec. 16.

While CAM officials have described it as a dramatic escape, a Dec. 30 column in the Yonkers Times of New York cited an unnamed source as saying the gang deliberately left the door unguarded and allowed the 12 to walk to freedom in fulfillment of the ransom deal.

The person, whom the paper described as someone with “direct and detailed knowledge” of the case, said if the gang hadn't allowed them to leave, someone would have reported the escapees before they reached safety.

However ex-hostages have continued to say, in detailed and consistent accounts, that they escaped during a narrow window of opportunity under fear of being recaptured or shot. They said recent rains had led the guards to congregate on the more sheltered side of the house, away from where the hostages nudged open a barricaded door and sneaked out for an overnight trek for miles through mud, thorns and mountainous terrain.

They also spoke of what they characterized as a divine deliverance, saying that a guard miraculously was blinded to evidence of their tampering with the door despite looking directly at it, and that neither villagers nor dogs reacted as they through the gang-controlled territory.

A CAM spokesman declined further comment. Haitian police have declined to comment on the kidnappings, and the gang’s leaders have not given interviews.

The U.S. State Department declined to comment beyond thanking “our Haitian and international partners as well as the U.S. interagency for their assistance in facilitating their safe release.”

___

Associated Press religion coverage receives support from the Lilly Endowment through The Conversation U.S. The AP is solely responsible for this content.

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, Top General short headlines
© Copyright 2022 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Remains found, yet most people escaped Colorado fire
Investigators looking for one of two people missing after a destructive Colorado wildfire have found partial human remains in an area near the suspected origin of the blaze
7:11PM ( 6 minutes ago )
Ransom freed some missionary hostages in Haiti, workers say
Workers for an Ohio-based missionary organization say an unidentified person made a ransom payment that freed three of their kidnapped colleagues from a Haitian gang in early December
7:08PM ( 9 minutes ago )
N Korea says hypersonic missile tested to modernize weaponry
North Korea said Thursday it has successfully launched a hypersonic missile as part of efforts to modernize its strategic weapons systems, days after leader Kim Jong Un vowed to bolster his military forces despite pandemic-related difficulties
6:56PM ( 21 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
US prisons director resigning after crises-filled tenure
The director of the federal Bureau of Prisons is resigning amid increasing scrutiny over his leadership
6:31PM ( 46 minutes ago )
Philadelphia fire kills at least 13, including 7 children
The deadliest single fire in Philadelphia in at least a century has killed 13 people, including seven children, and sent two people to hospitals
6:28PM ( 50 minutes ago )
US advisers endorse Pfizer COVID boosters for younger teens
An influential government advisory panel is recommending COVID-19 boosters for younger teens
6:25PM ( 52 minutes ago )
AP National News
Oldest US veteran of WWII, Lawrence N. Brooks, dies at 112
The oldest World War II veteran in the United States has died at the age of 112
4:43PM ( 2 hours ago )
Novak Djokovic held at Australian border over visa
Novak Djokovic had to spend the night at the Melbourne airport as officials refused to let him enter the country for the Australian Open after an apparent visa mix-up
4:18PM ( 2 hours ago )
US stocks slump after minutes from Fed meeting rattle market
Stocks closed lower on Wall Street Wednesday after minutes from the Federal Reserve’s last meeting raised expectations that the central bank will move faster to raise interest rates to fight inflation
4:08PM ( 3 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
Remains found, yet most people escaped Colorado fire
Investigators looking for one of two people missing after a destructive Colorado wildfire have found partial human remains in an area near the suspected origin of the blaze
7:11PM ( 6 minutes ago )
US prisons director resigning after crises-filled tenure
The director of the federal Bureau of Prisons is resigning amid increasing scrutiny over his leadership
7:02PM ( 15 minutes ago )
N Korea says hypersonic missile tested to modernize weaponry
North Korea said Thursday it has successfully launched a hypersonic missile as part of efforts to modernize its strategic weapons systems, days after leader Kim Jong Un vowed to bolster his military forces despite pandemic-related difficulties
6:56PM ( 21 minutes ago )
Ross Browner, 2-time All-American at Notre Dame, dies at 67
Ross Browner, a two-time All-American at Notre Dame and longtime defensive lineman for the Cincinnati Bengals, has died
6:46PM ( 31 minutes ago )
Colorado fire evacuees aided by good road access, daylight
Investigators looking for one of two people missing after a destructive Colorado wildfire have found partial human remains in an area near the suspected origin of the blaze
6:43PM ( 35 minutes ago )