American missionary Cash Stephen Godbold was finally released by a rebel group on July 24 after nine months of captivity in northern Chad.
A missionary for the Evangelical Alliance Mission (TEAM), Godbold was delivering wellheads for a U.S. Department of Defensefunded project on October 10, 2007, when he was detained at a roadblock
by a rebel group, the Movement for Democracy and Justice in T'Chad (MDJT).
The MDJT said that they took Godbold because he had entered their territory without permission, said fellow TEAM missionary Keith Rasher. The rebels believed he was a spy for the Chadian government.
TEAM says Godbold ended up where he did because he had taken an alternative route to avoid land mines. The MDJT told TEAM they were going to release Godbold on 15 different occasions. TEAM sent a plane to pick him up at the end of April; it came back empty.
In spite of the stress, Godbold reports being treated well. He lost 35 pounds, but says he ate regularly, played cards and drank tea with the rebels, and had some freedom of movement.
TEAM says they made no deals with the MDJT to secure Godbold's release. Rasher said Godbold was freed because of the relationship he built with his captors. Other aid workers in Chad have not been so lucky.
News reports say at least five have been killed in Chad in 2008, including the country director of Save the Children UK.
The MDJT is a band of fewer than 40 militants, Godbold said in debriefings. They are one of many small rebel bands that operate in Chad. According to Chadian Christian leader Padeu Dakouli, Chad has five major militant anti-government groups, but they have not yet joined forces.
All the same, they pose a threat to President Idriss Déby's government, widely considered one ...