SAARLOUIS, Germany – Over the course of a year, Assyrian Christians raised millions of dollars in ransom money to free more than 200 members of the ancient community who had been taken hostage in Syria by the Islamic State group, those involved in the campaign say.
The Associated Press has spoken with nearly two dozen people involved in the global effort to free the Christians. The donations were raised from church offerings, a Christmas concert, speeches, and Facebook appeals. An Assyrian bishop, working secretly in Syria, let negotiations with the militants.
Paying ransoms to IS is illegal in the United States and most of the West. But the Assyrians involved say they had no choice, desperate to save members of a community that is dwindling and vulnerable in the Middle East.