Police find “Vicar of Baghdad” did not pay ransom to ISIS to redeem sex slaves
Statement by the Reverend Canon Dr Andrew White 05/06/2018
For one year I have been under police investigation in response to a serious incident report submitted by FRRME to the Charity Commission indicating that I had paid money to ISIS terrorists in order to redeem sex slaves. This information was not true and finally, this month the case was officially dropped and I have been cleared from any further police investigation.
I was suspended from my position at FRRME in 2016 and encouraged to go through a series of medical and psychological tests which resulted in my being asked to resign from the very foundation that I had given my life to build, and I did so. Meanwhile, despite a significant decrease in sponsorship, my school and clinic in Jordan for Iraqi Christian refugees, my financial and spiritual support of Iraqi refugee families and my engagement in relief work all carried on as normal. We continued to serve thousands of people and despite my no longer being salaried and having lost contact with many former supporters, our work continued to expand and solidify. Statements from my key associates are below.
I always knew that Canon White was innocent. I am a witness to the fact that he was treated unjustly and unprofessionally by the directors of FRRME who instructed staff during ‘an away day’, not to talk to him and to block his calls after he had left. When they asked me to stay with them, I refused to leave Canon White. My reasons were three-fold: Firstly, I knew the accusations were 100% false. Secondly, I was aware of the desperate needs of his persecuted and displaced congregation who fled Iraq and currently reside in Jordan. Thirdly, the support of thousands across the globe gave me strength and resolution.
The accusation that Canon White was buying back sex slaves was ludicrous; I spent 25 days a month with him in Israel, Palestine, Jordan, the UK and the USA from morning until night.
Canon White is a man of God, a man of integrity with a pure heart. I have witnessed him act as a beacon of joy and hope to thousands and his work on reconciliation, conflict resolution and hostage liberation have been awarded the highest levels of honour across the globe.
This whole case has had an adverse effect on the health of Canon White and on that of his wife as well as on the refugee community who are in desperate need of support. I thank those who have stood with us in prayer; without the encouragement of such people we would not be rebuilding today.
(Hanna Ishaq, Middle Eastern Director of Jerusalem MERIT)
As President of Mosaica, The Middle East Religious Peace Initiative, I have had the honour of working closely with Canon Andrew White for more than 20 years, also during periods when I served as a Cabinet Minister and Deputy Foreign Minister in different Israeli Governments. Throughout this whole period, I have seen how Andrew has totally devoted his life to what I believe is the true mission of religion: to assist, comfort and virtually save lives of human beings in the most difficult places in the world today, human beings who everybody else have abandoned.
From the front line of this work, which is the essence of dignity of our humanity, you necessarily come into situations where in order to save lives you must act under very difficult circumstances. Under one of these circumstances, Andrew came under investigation by the UK police. Knowing the facts on the ground I had no doubt whatsoever that nothing would come out of this case. I am indeed delighted that it is now confirmed by the police and that he received a phone call from them apologising for the situation.
(Rabbi Michael Melchior, Jerusalem)
It was during my time as Archbishop of Canterbury that I encountered Canon Andrew White when he was Director of the esteemed Coventry Cathedral Centre for Reconciliation. For a time, I chaired the Board of FRRME of which he was President. I regard Andrew not only as a friend, but as one of the most dedicated and pioneering figures in the Middle East today. His inspiring commitment to the very poor and marginalised of all faiths is well known and unequalled anywhere. I continue to be a supporter of his work and am delighted that, now fully exonerated by the authorities, his extraordinary work will continue undiminished.
(Lord Carey, former Archbishop of Canterbury)
Despite the devastating effects of ISIS on my congregation and the continued suffering of the Iraqi community, I remain positive and excited as we develop further aspects of our ministry and follow God’s leading into new nations. My Middle Eastern Director, Hanna Ishaq has remained fully committed to my work, enabling me to sustain all of our work in Israel and Jordan and we have been able to develop a new UK team who have established an associated charity with new trustees which is fully registered with the Charity Commission. This charity is called Jerusalem MERIT (Middle East Reconciliation International). Whilst my ministry focus remains mainly in the Middle East, I am now working on reconciliation issues in other countries as far away as New Zealand and the ministry is looking at radically expanding its work both in the political and religious spectrums.
A major part of my work continues to be in Judeo-Christian relations, in particular, relationships with the Orthodox Hasidic Jewish community and I continue to work closely with the various Islamic communities as well as the historic Samaritan Community whilst developing further initiatives and opening new dialogues in these areas.
The Reverend Canon Dr Andrew P B White
President of Jerusalem MERIT