The Rev. Canon Andrew White, at one time the only Anglican vicar in Iraq and known as "The Vicar of Baghdad," has been suspended from his own charity over alleged payments made to free sex slaves seized by the Islamic State terror group.
White, the president of the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East, has been suspended by the charity's trustees, and a statutory inquiry has also been launched by the official regulator of charities in England and Wales, the Charity Commission, according to Anglican Community News Service.
The 52-year-old British clergyman acknowledged in a Facebook post that he had been suspended over "some inaccurate statements I made about our work with and funding for the former slave girls taken by ISIS," and added, "What is clear is that at no time did we pay money to any terrorists."
Neither White nor his trustees have clearly spoken about the exact nature of the allegations, but the issue appears to be ransom payments made to Islamic State, which is also known as ISIS, ISIL or Daesh.
"It would be inappropriate to comment further on an active investigation other than to say that the Foundation believe at this stage that the alleged incident stemmed from a genuine desire by Canon White to help others," the charity's trustees said in a statement.
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."
White is currently in Amman, Jordan. He was pastor of St George's Church, one of Iraq's biggest churches, but the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, asked him to leave that country in 2014 lest he was targeted by ISIS.
He works as a pastor to many Christian families who sought refuge in Jordan after fleeing ISIS attacks in Iraq. He also serves in Jerusalem for reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians.
White's charity "provides emergency relief to Christians and other persecuted minorities in Northern Iraq, as well thousands of Iraqi refugees who have fled to Jordan to escape the sectarian violence," according to its website. "In addition to spiritual support we provide food, medicine and shelter."
ISIS is an offshoot of al-Qaeda and wants to establish a caliphate in the Levant region and beyond. It has gained control over large swathes of territories in Syria and Iraq, and is seeking to expand its territory. Christians and other minorities are among its main targets.