American YouTube personality is released after being kidnapped in Haiti

FILE - Barbecue, whose real name is Jimmy Cherizier, sits at his house during an interview with AP, in Lower Delmas, a district of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, May 24, 2019. The U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution Friday, Oct. 21, 2022 demanding an immediate end to violence and criminal activity in Haiti and imposing sanctions on Barbecue, a powerful gang leader. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery, File)

An American YouTube personality who was kidnapped two weeks ago by a gang leader in Haiti was released over the weekend and was on his way home to the United States on Monday morning, according to his father.

The American, Adisson Pierre Maalouf, 26, had traveled from the neighboring Dominican Republic to interview Jimmy Chérizier, a former police officer and gang leader known as Barbecue, according to Maalouf’s family, who spoke to The New York Times after his release.


Kidnapped with him was Maalouf’s guide, a Haitian journalist named Jean Sacra Sean Roubens. Roubens confirmed to the Times that he had also been released.

Maalouf said on social media that he had been abducted by a rival gang leader and held in a “concrete shack surrounded by barbed wire” in a remote location.

“Can’t give any more detail till I’m home, but all I will say for now is — Glory be to God,” he said on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Chérizier could not be reached for comment, and there is no evidence that he was involved in the abductions.

Maalouf, a Lebanese American from Georgia, calls himself “Arab” on his social media platforms. He was kidnapped on March 14 near the airport in Port-au-Prince, his father, Pierre Maalouf, told the Times.

“He enjoys doing interviews with bad people, let’s put it that way,” Pierre Maalouf said.

In a video posted on social media Saturday morning, shortly before Maalouf’s release, he and Roubens are seen sitting on a sofa and exchanging hugs with Joseph Wilson, a gang leader known in Haitian Creole as Lanmò Sanjou, or Death Can Come Any Day.

In the video, Wilson said the two men had been well treated, despite being held against their will. He could not be reached for comment.

Pierre Maalouf, 60, said his family was in touch with his son throughout the ordeal and were confident that he would be released unharmed.

“I knew that he was safe,” said Pierre Maalouf, adding that the family had paid a ransom to free his son.

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