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"We need help": Haiti's interim leader asks for US troops

Many Haitians rallied outside the U.S Embassy in Port-au-Prince to demand a way out. Young men waved ID cards and passports as they shouted "Refugee!" and "Help!"

"We need help and we have asked our international partners," Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph said to The Associated Press late Friday. "We are confident that our international partners can help the national police to resolve the situation."

This extraordinary request for U.S. support reminded of the turmoil that followed Haiti's last presidential assassination in 1915 when an angry mob ransacked the French Embassy and beat President Vilbrun Guillaume Samuel to death. As a response, President Woodrow Wilson sent Marines to Haiti. This was in order to justify the American military occupation, which lasted almost two decades, as a way of avoiding anarchy.

The Biden administration has not yet indicated that it will provide military aid. It plans to send FBI agents to assist in investigating a crime that has pushed Haiti, already plagued by gang violence and poverty, into a dangerous struggle for power and constitutional stability.

Farhan Haq, U.N. deputy spokesperson, said Saturday that Haiti had also written a request for assistance to the United Nations. According to a U.N. source, the letter requested security and troops at key locations.

A group of legislators announced on Friday that they had recognized Joseph Lambert (the head of Haiti's dismantled Senate) as interim president. This was in direct challenge to the authority of the interim government. Ariel Henry was also named prime minister by them. Moise had chosen Henry to replace Joseph just a day before his death, but he had not yet assumed office or formed a government.

Rosemond Pradel (an ex-secretary general of Haiti's provisional election commission) told the AP that Joseph is not qualified or has the legal right to lead the country.

Joseph expressed his dismay at the possibility that others might try to profit from Moise's death for political gain.

Joseph said, "I'm interested in no power struggle," and assumed the leadership of the country with the support of the military and police. "There is only one way that people can be elected president of Haiti. Elections are the only way to become president of Haiti.

More details were revealed about a shooting that took on the appearance of an international conspiracy. It involved gunmen hiding in foreign embassies, private security firms operating out of Miami's cavernous warehouse, and a sighting of a Hollywood celebrity.

Two Haitian Americans were among those who were arrested, one of whom was a co-worker with Sean Penn after the country's 2010 devastating earthquake. They also arrested or killed "mercenaries", who they said were ex-military personnel from Colombia.

Some of the suspects were taken into custody in an operation against Taiwan's Embassy, where they are believed have sought refuge. Leon Charles, National Police Chief, said that eight more suspects are still at large and were being sought.

His wife was also severely injured in the attack at Moise’s house before dawn Wednesday. She was flown to Miami for treatment. Joseph claimed he had spoken to the first lady, but out of respect for her grief has not inquired about it.

Officials in Colombia claim that the men were recruited from four companies and traveled to the Caribbean country in two groups via Dominican Republic. Private security firms and mercenary armies are keen to hire U.S.-trained Colombian troops because of their decades-long experience fighting leftist rebels as well as powerful drug cartels.

Some of the men posted photos on Facebook of themselves visiting the Dominican Republic's presidential palace and other tourist spots. The Dominican Republic shares Hispaniola Island, Haiti.

Duberney Capador's sister, Duberney Capador said that she last spoke with her brother on Wednesday, hours after Moise was murdered. The men were surrounded and holed up in a house trying desperately to escape a shootout.

"He told me to not tell our mother, so that she wouldn't be worried," said YennyCapador, fighting back tears.

The mastermind of the attack is not yet known. Many questions remain as to how the attackers managed to enter the presidential residence pretending to be Drug Enforcement Administration agents. They met little resistance from the people charged with protecting him.

Capador stated that her brother, who was a sergeant in the Colombian army, retired in 2019 and was hired by a private security company with the understanding that he would provide protection for Haitian powerful people.

Capador claimed she didn't know much about the employer, but shared a photo of her brother wearing a uniform with the logo CTU Security -- a company located in Doral (a Miami suburb that is popular with Colombian migrants).

Francisco Uribe's wife, who was also among the arrested, said that CTU offered to pay men $2,700 per month. This is a small amount for dangerous international missions, but much more than most men (non-commissioned officers and professional soldiers) earn from their pensions.

Uribe is currently being investigated in connection to the alleged killing of an unarmed civilian in 2008. He was described as someone who died in combat in 2008. This was one of many extrajudicial killings that rocked Colombia's U.S. trained army more than a decade back.

CTU Security was established in 2008 and has Antonio Intriago as its president. He is also associated with several other Florida-registered entities such as the Counter Terrorist Unit Federal Academy and the Venezuelan American National Council.

CTU lists two addresses on its website. One is a gray-colored warehouse, which was closed Friday without any sign. Another small suite is located in a nearby modern office building. It belongs to a different company. The office receptionist said that Intriago visits the office every few days to collect mail or hold meetings. Intriago, a Venezuelan national, didn't return calls or emails seeking comment.

Capador stated, "We are the ones most interested in clarifying how it happened so that my brother’s reputation doesn’t remain like it is." He was humble and hardworking. He was a recipient of honors and decorations.

Two Haitian Americans were also among the detained along with the Colombians.

Le Nouvelliste was told by Clement Noel, an investigator, that James Solages and Joseph Vincent were the Americans who were arrested. They originally intended to arrest Moise but not kill him. According to the newspaper, Noel claimed that Vincent and Solages were acting as translators for attackers.

Solages, 35, describes himself as a "certified diplomat agent", an advocate for children, and budding politician on a now-defunct website for a charity that he founded in South Florida in 2019. The charity was to help residents of Jacmel on Haiti's southern coastline.

After the magnitude 7.0 earthquake in Haiti that left 300,000 Haitians dead and tens of thousands homeless, Penn set up a relief organization. He briefly worked as a driver and a bodyguard. He also listed as his past employers, the Canadian Embassy in Haiti. After his arrest, his Facebook page was taken down. It featured photos of armored military vehicles as well as a photo of him standing in front an American flag.

The charity and Solages' associates did not respond to calls. A relative from south Florida claimed that Solages didn't have military training and that he doesn't believe he was involved.

Joseph did not specify the attacker, but stated that Moise had made many enemies while attacking powerful Oligarchs who have for years benefited from generous state contracts.

Investigators are currently focusing on some of these elite insiders. Authorities have asked that Reginald Boulos, a well-known businessman, and Youri Latortue, the former Senate President, meet with prosecutors next Wednesday for questioning. The men were not charged and no further information was provided.

Analysts believe that the plotter of the brazen attack was likely to have ties to a criminal underground that has thrived in recent years as corruption, drug trafficking and other crimes have become more entrenched. As gangs torched and ransacked homes and fought for territory, more than 147,000 Haitians were displaced last month.

Thermidor Joam (36), said that "this country has nothing to give". He was one of the crowds outside the U.S Embassy on Friday. "If the president can kill himself, then I have no protection whatsoever if someone tries to kill me."

Prosecutors want to interview members of Moise’s security detail, such as Jean Laguel Civil (the president's security coordinator) and Dimitri Herard (head of the General Security Unit at the National Palace).

"If you're responsible for the security of the president, where have your been?" Port-au-Prince prosecutor Bed-Ford Claude was quoted saying to Le Nouvelliste in French. "What did your team do to save the president from this fate?"

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