Bishop Mar Afram Athneil of Assyria managed to free 226 Christians that were incarcerated by ISIS through various means to fill the required ransom money.
In February of 2015, the terrorist group assaulted the Assyrian Christians in their homes located at the Khabur River Valley in Northern Syria. Christian towns were swept off their people and were rounded by the militants.
It was only after some weeks that the captured Christians learned about ISIS' plans with them which was to ransom money. One hostage, Marza, was instructed to deliver a message to their bishop stating the terms of the ransom. One person, whether a child or an adult, would be freed for $50,000. It would estimate to $11 million overall, according to Catholic Herald.
The bishop started to gather money from around the globe. Donations were raised by churches, Facebook accounts, Christmas concerts, and fellow Assyrians residing from other countries. The bishop was having secret negotiations with the terrorist group to release the hostages, according to Christian Times.
Aneki Nissan, a donator from Canada, stated his ethical perspective in kidnapping, "You look at it from the moral side and I get it. If we give them money we're just feeding into it, and they're going to kill using that money," he said. But he stated that 226 Assyrian lives were in the line and they were a small minority that they have to help each other.
Even though most countries do not tolerate ransom for terrorists, no government or outside forces either dispute or help the Assyrians.
In September 2015, ISIS released a video of three Khabur men shot to death by the militants. After this, donations started to accumulate to help the captives be freed the soonest possible time.
"We can't fight them, Assyrians don't have an army to go rescue them. They don't have SWAT teams, they don't have SEAL 6. The only option they have is to pay ransom. And everybody was so fearful that the rest of the hostages were also going to be killed," filmmaker Sargon Saadi said.
In February 2016, the last 43 names were emailed to the bishop. But on the ride back to freedom, only 42 hostages were inside the bus. The last hostage, 16-year-old Maryam David Talya, was captured by an ISIS guard at the last checkpoint. She was then released on Easter Sunday.
The bishop successfully procured freedom for the militant's captives.
"Honestly, this man should go down as a saint, the things that he's done, the sacrifices he's made to help these people," Nissan said. "He's refusing to leave Syria until all his flock is secured."