'Vicar of Baghdad' Canon Andrew White Suspended from Own Charity after Allegedly Buying Back Sex Slaves from ISIS

Jun 30, 2016 11:51 AM EDT

Canon Andrew White, also known as the "Vicar of Baghdad," has been suspended from his own charity over payments made to free sex slaves captured by the Islamic State terror group.

According to The Times, White was suspended from the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East after the Charity Commission started an investigation into the charity on June 9.

In a Facebook post, the 52-year-old clergyman, who is currently in Amman, Jordan, revealed that he had been suspended in relation to "some inaccurate statements I made about our work with and funding for the former slave girls taken by ISIS".

Addressing some allegations, he added: "What is clear is that at no time did we pay money to any terrorists."

While the charity's trustees have refused to comment on an "active investigation," they did say they believe that the "alleged incident stemmed from a genuine desire by Canon White to help others."

The Telegraph quoted a spokesperson of the Charity Commissioner saying: "In response to a statement published on the website of the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East, The Charity Commission can confirm that it opened a statutory inquiry... on 9 June 2016. The commission cannot comment further on this live investigation at this time."

The minister, who is widely respected for his peacemaking efforts between Christians and Muslims, was ordered by Archbishop of Canterbury to leave his church in Baghdad in December of 2014 as Christians in Iraq came under increasing threat from the Islamic State terrorists.

The charity, which White started in 2010, provides emergency relief to Christians, working with "persecuted minorities" in northern Iraq and Jordan, according to its website. 

In a Facebook post from last year, he wrote that the charity was involved in working with "women and girls who have been rescued as sex slaves". According to reports, ISIS has abducted women and girls as young as nine and made them sex slaves for the group's fighters.  

RNS notes that in a September 2015 interview with Jewish Voice NY, Maman, whose organization is called the Liberation of Christian and Yazidi Children of Iraq, called White "the most important aid I currently have."

White, he said, "is a world-respected humanitarian figure. ... Together we have saved more than 102 children so far, and it increases every day. Canon Andrew White has nothing to do with the liberation aspect. He handles and provides support after they are liberated."

During a session titled "Christian Genocide" held during Proclaim 16, the NRB International Christian Media Convention in Nashville, Tennessee, White shared how Christians in the Middle East continue to live in desperate conditions, lacking sufficient accommodations, food, healthcare, and education and urged believers in the West to offer monetary assistance.

"We Christians! We talk about looking after the Persecuted Church," he said. "You talk about helping those who are suffering for their faith. But do you mean it? Or is it just talk and prayer?"

He added that while "prayer is a very good thing" especially compared to doing nothing at all. But "you've got to pray for peace and pay for peace." The Vicar of Baghdad explained, "It's no good praying and doing nothing. If you really care, you will provide for those in need."