Two of the 17 missionaries recently released in Haiti were sick adults and no ransom was paid despite threats from the leader of the 400 Mawozo gang that volunteers of the Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries would be killed if they did not receive $1 million each for their release, a new report suggests.
In a statement Sunday, Christian Aid Ministries announced that two of the 17 missionaries had been released but they refused to share many details.
“We cannot provide or confirm the names of those released, the reasons for their release, where they are from, or their current location. We ask that those who have more specific information about the release and the individuals involved would safeguard that information,” officials from the international charity said.
The group did not immediately respond to direct questions from The Christian Post on Monday but sent a release explaining they were praying for the 15 missionaries still being held captive by the gang.
“As we rejoice about the two hostages who were released over the weekend, we continue to pray for the fifteen who are still in captivity,” the group said in a statement to CP Monday. “This is the 38th day since the kidnapping took place. God has given us much encouragement through the prayers and notes we have received. We, along with the family members of the hostages, treasure this support from believers around the world.”
A source with knowledge of the release told The Miami Herald that no ransom was paid and the released missionaries were sick adults.
The group of kidnapped missionaries includes six men, six women and five children, of which 16 are Americans and one is Canadian. The missionaries who were kidnapped on Oct. 16, range in age from just eight months old to 48.
While negotiations for their release continued last month between the gang and officials in the troubled Caribbean nation and the U.S., a video of 400 Mawozo leader Wilson Joseph, began circulating on social media showing the crime boss wasn't pleased with the pace of negotiations.
“I swear by thunder that if I don’t get what I’m asking for, I will put a bullet in the heads of these Americans,” Joseph threatened, according to a translation cited by Bloomberg Quicktake.
The gang leader further threatened Haiti’s Prime Minister Ariel Henry, as well as the chief of Haiti’s National Police, Léon Charles. Bloomberg noted that Joseph’s speech was made in front of open coffins that apparently held several members of his gang who were recently killed.
“You guys make me cry. I cry water. But I’m going to make you guys cry blood,” he said.
Despite the threat of execution at the time, Christian Aid Ministries said in a statement that the “families are united in their desire to follow Jesus’ teaching of forgiveness.”
“As a group of Christians, our King [Jesus] said that He is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance,” an unidentified family member shared. “That is our desire for the men who are part of the gang.”