An Anglican priest known as the “Vicar of Baghdad” has been accused of trying to pay ISIS $17,500 (Dh 64,280) to release two women who have been physically abused and kept as slaves by the terror group as part of a genocide against Iraq’s Yazidi minority.
Canon Andrew White was president of Christian Aid charity the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East (FRRME) when he looked into different ways of freeing the enslaved women.
He earned the nickname “the Vicar of Baghdad” after serving as vicar of St George’s church in the city between 2004 and 2014.
A report by the Charity Commission on Friday found that the $17,500, which was raised at a fundraising event for FRRME's US sister charity, showed “serious misconduct and/or mismanagement” was likely to have caused significant damage to the FRRME's income and reputation.
Although the report didn’t use Mr White’s name – referring to the person only as Trustee A – he is understood to be the FRRME trustee the commission investigated.
The other board members of FRRME suspended Mr White, who was a charity employee and had previously been its president, in June 2016 and the Charity commission suspended him as a trustee the following month after opening its inquiry. He resigned from both of his roles at the charity in October 2016.
The regulator added a number of documents written by Mr White that indicated his intent to pay funds – either directly or indirectly – to ISIS.
He was interviewed under caution by police over allegations of terrorist financing and the commission concluded that it had “not identified any evidence of charitable funds being used to secure the release of hostages”. No further action was taken.
However, the inquiry found that, overall, Mr White’s actions “fell well below that expected and required of a charity trustee”.
Mr White denied the allegations that he wanted to pay off a ransom to ISIS. He told The Independent on Friday: "At no time did we ever pay any money to ISIS or any terrorist organisation.
“All that I was involved in doing is paying for support for ISIS sex slaves when they were released," he said.
"This was a completely benign organisation that was housing these girls who had nowhere to go. Never did we pay for their release.”