Arab-American YouTuber reportedly released following kidnapping in Haiti

Addison Pierre Maalouf says he was taken hostage in the Caribbean nation

People walk past the National Palace in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. AP
Powered by automated translation

An Arab-American YouTuber has been released after reportedly being kidnapped in Haiti while on a quest to interview the leader of a powerful criminal gang.

Addison Pierre Maalouf, known as YourFellowArab, travelled from his home in Atlanta, Georgia, to Haiti, where he planned to meet and interview Jimmy “Barbecue” Cherizier, head of the Revolutionary Forces of the G9 Family and Allies criminal group.

The Caribbean nation has been rocked by unrest over the past month as gang violence skyrockets and the government comes close to collapse.

Haiti 24 reported that Mr Maalouf, whom it described as an American journalist, had been kidnapped on March 14 by the 400 Mawozo gang.

The gang was responsible for the previous kidnapping of 16 Americans and one Canadian from Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries outside of the capital Port-au-Prince in October 2021.

The Haitian outlet reported that the group had demanded $600,000 in ransom, of which $40,000 was paid.

In a post on X on Saturday, Mr Maalouf said that he had been released.

“Cameraman never dies. I’ve been released,” he said. “Can’t give any more detail till I’m home, but all I will say for now is – Glory be to God.”

He also claimed he had been kidnapped due to the colour of his skin.

While many of his followers on X expressed relief over his release, others accused him of faking the kidnapping as a publicity stunt.

Twitch streamed Lalem had posted on X before his release: “Tried keeping it private for two weeks, but it’s getting out everywhere now.

“Yes, Arab has been kidnapped in Haiti and we’re working on getting him out. Love y'all, he’ll be out soon.”

Lalem also shared Mr Maalouf's last video, in which he spoke of the dangers of gang violence in an area he was preparing to visit.

Mr Maalouf's YouTube channel, which has about 1.4 million subscribers, features a series of videos in which he appears to visit dangerous areas in countries around the world.

The State Department told The National that it was aware of reports of the kidnapping of a US citizen in Haiti but did not have further information to share at this time.

“The US Department of State and our embassies and consulates abroad have no higher priority than the safety and security of US citizens overseas,” it said.

Another YouTuber, Miles “Lord Miles” Routledge, posted on X on Friday claiming that he had spoken with Mr Maalouf via his kidnappers' phone.

Mr Routledge said that Mr Maalouf had entered the country 10 days previously to “film the riots”.

He added that there had been an attempt to pay the ransom but it “went wrong”.

Scores of people killed and more than 15,000 left homeless after fleeing neighbourhoods raided by gangs in the recent wave of unrest in Haiti, which has resulted in the resignation of the Prime Minister.

Updated: March 31, 2024, 1:28 PM