Via a translator, the man says he has been in contact with a broker—a middleman used as a go-between from ISIS to grieving Yazidi families —who for a high fee will return his children after they were taken and sold as slaves among the jihadis just over a year ago in the ISIS blitz of northern Iraq.
The Yazidis , an ethno-religious group that mostly speaks Kurdish but observes a distinct faith that is neither Christian nor Muslim, are viewed as devil worshippers by ISIS, and therefore singled out by the jihadis in a campaign many say is genocide.
Thousands of Yazidi women and children were sold as slaves and subject to rape, and their men were murdered en masse when ISIS overran the Yazidi heartland around Mount Sinjar in northwestern Iraq in August CYCI, Beam says, can fill that gap with its own funds to pay the brokers. Back at the meeting, the father has become grumpy over an apparent impasse in talks, and insists the amount the broker originally demanded must be met.
To break the stalemate, Beam calls a CYCI agent authorized to negotiate directly, and hands her cellphone to the man. A conversation ensues, and eventually the father hangs up and hands the phone back. He appears pleased, and an agreement has been reached. The negotiation portion of the process, however, has concluded. In late August The Daily Beast was allowed to attend this session on condition certain names, locations, and transaction details not be revealed for security purposes.
Its claims of rescuing some Yazidis and Christians from ISIS, as documented on its website , have been called into question by a number of prominent Yazidis, and concerns have been raised that through its use of brokers it is funding ISIS.
Cheat Sheet A speedy, smart summary of all the news you need to know and nothing you don't. You are now subscribed to the Daily Digest and Cheat Sheet. We will not share your email with anyone for any reason. The Daily Beast was invited to one such rescue Maman said already was in progress, but that proved impractical because of the distance from Erbil.
Don't buy a kid! He describes the system as an underground railroad of sorts in which the women and girls are sent to Kurdish-run refugee camps for food and medical care before being sent to their ancestral villages under the direction of the Reverend Canon Andrew White, a former vicar from Baghdad who led the only Anglican church in Iraq.
White for his part wrote on his Facebook page Wednesday of his complete support of Maman. I totally stand with him and for him he is my hero. Maman says that any legal contestations would be unfounded.
CYCI is backed by thousands of private donors, including Pamela Geller, a controversial New York-based critic of Muslim extremists and mainstream media. In May, she sponsored a drawing contest of the Prophet Muhammad in Garland, Texas, at which two Muslim gunmen where shot and killed as they attempted to attack the event.
Geller appears in a CYCI promotional video with a triumphant soundtrack, showing the teary return of a Yazidi mother and her four children to their family in the village.
Maman on several occasions, requesting evidence of his alleged rescue work. We are concerned that this may be reckless. ISIS continues to capture Christians and target their churches for destruction. To prove his efforts are genuine, he also provides numerous photos of what he says are rescued families being fingerprinted and documented after their CYCI-orchestrated rescues. Beam for her part says she has only a tenuous relationship with CYCI, and in fact only attended the August meeting after first being invited by a friend to meet with his family members who had recently escaped ISIS, and not to negotiate another release.
However, when The Daily Beast initially contacted CYCI to speak with its personnel in Iraq and view its operations, it was directed to speak and meet with Beam, who nonetheless later insisted on distancing herself from the organization.
She says her involvement with CYCI was only to verify rescues and cross-reference them with her own records by Maman, that she is not a CYCI agent and she was never paid by them. The Daily Beast first met with Beam, a self-described journalist and activist, in Dohuk in Iraqi Kurdistan, where she keeps an apartment with spare beds for Yazidi families she says are sometimes in transit, and sometimes just want to visit.
She says she has a doctorate in education and eventually left teaching to work as a software developer before entering semi-retirement. When not in the Middle East she says she legally resides in Barbados, and over the years has grown distrustful of the American government, a big reason why she chooses to live abroad. Beam says her disenfranchisement with her homeland stemmed from the suspicious death of freelance journalist Danny Casolaro in Attempts to stain Maman and CYCI, she says, are part of a larger conspiracy and regional power plays.
Maman, via his process of documenting his rescues, says he has all the proof he needs to verify his success, even though his critics have continued their attacks. If allowed to continue to work in Iraq, it appears CYCI will continue making its claims, and its critics will continue making theirs too. Nothing The Daily Beast saw in August proves definitively that either side in this issue is correct, but the meeting we attended appeared genuine, and at least a part of what CYCI says it does is real.
The release of Yazidi hostages, negotiated in nondescript locations and executed on the back roads and deserts of northern Iraq and Syria, is by necessity a secretive affair.
When asked again to address whether money paid to brokers to retrieve Yazidi women and children from ISIS might in turn be paying the extremists, she once more carefully avoided saying it did, but questioned if such a small sum should really be an impediment to reuniting a family.