PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI — The leader of the 400 Mawozo gang, Wilson Joseph, who authorities said, kidnapped 17 missionaries hostages in Haiti, sent a horrifying message that he will kill the Americans if his demands are not met.
In a video released on social media, last Thursday, Wilson Joseph was elegantly dressed in a blue suit, carrying a blue hat and wearing a large cross around his neck, seen threatening to “put a bullet in the heads of these Americans” if he doesn’t receive the ransom payment he has requested.
“ 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 said in the video.
He also threatened Prime Minister of Haiti Ariel Henry and Haiti’s National Police Chief as he spoke in front of the 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 cry blood, ”gang leader Joseph said.
Last Thursday, PM Henry’s office announced that Leon Charles had resigned as head of the National Police and was replaced by Frantz Elbe.
“We would like for public peace to be restored, that we return to normal life and that we regain our way to democracy, PM Henry said.
The hostages were abducted after leaving an orphanage outside the capital, Port-au-Prince, on October 16.
Sixteen (16) of the abductees are Americans and one (1) is Canadian. Five (5) of them are children, including an eight-month-old infant.
Christian Aid Ministries, the Ohio-based missionary group whose members were kidnapped, called for a day of fasting and prayers for the hostages on Thursday, using people to sincerely pray for the abductees as well as the kidnappers.
“ Pray for the kidnappers, that they would experience the love of Jesus and turn to him, and we see that as their ultimate need,” said Weston Showalter, a spokesperson for the group.
“ We also ask for prayer for government leaders and authorities as they relate to the case and work toward the release of hostages.”
Meanwhile, Haitian workers promptly went on a general strike on October 18 over worsening insecurity and gang violence after the abduction of the Christian missionaries.
Concerned citizens are seen in the streets of Haiti after gang leader Wilson Joseph’s video went viral; tensions seem to be escalating, fear that violence could worsen on the streets.
Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world, which has been suffering from periodic natural disasters, gang violence, and a longstanding political crisis made worse by the assassination of President Jovenel Moise on July 7.