The vehicle pictured above was stolen from one of our bases close to the Mali border on the night of June 12 by armed bandits. It ended up with the MNLA, a Touareg rebel group. This is the group of rebels behind the coup in Mali.
The traditional leader of the area was so incensed that they would dare come and steal a vehicle from Samaritan’s Purse that he and several others, including military officials, went and personally demanded it’s return. (It went to both Burkina Faso and Mali!) It was unbelievable. No ransom was paid.
The bandits knocked the snorkel off, stripped the antenna and radio, and drove it hard enough to knock out some taillights, but overall it’s in good condition and will be back on the road after a few small repairs. The military told us this is the first time that a vehicle stolen by rebels has ever been returned.
When I retrieved it, we paid the locals for driving it back, for their fuel, and gave them certificates of appreciation for their hard work on our behalf. In addition, I placed Arabic and French New Testaments in the hands of both the governor of the region and the commanding officer of the troops in Tilabery. Maybe that was the entire purpose of the incident. We’re thankful that the locals care enough about Samaritan’s Purse to accomplish such a feat.