(AP) — Haiti's interim government said it has asked the United States
to send troops to protect critical infrastructure
as it works to stabilize the country and prepare for elections
following the assassination
“We definitely need assistance, and we’ve asked our international partners for assistance,” Interim Prime Minister
Claude Joseph told The Associated Press
late Friday by phone. “We believe our partners can assist the national police
in resolving the situation.”
The stunning request for U.S. military
assistance recalled the upheaval that followed Haiti's last presidential assassination, in 1915, when an angry mob dragged President Vilbrun Guillaume Sam out of the French Embassy and beat him to death
. In response, President Woodrow Wilson sent Marines into Haiti, justifying the American military occupation — which lasted nearly two decades — as a way to avert a civil war
However, the Biden administration
has made no indication that it will provide military assistance, instead intending to send FBI
agents to assist with the ongoing investigation
into a crime
that has plunged Haiti, a country already beleaguered by poverty
and gang violence, into a destabilizing power struggle and a constitutional standoff.
In a direct challenge
to the interim government's authority, a group of lawmakers declared loyalty and recognized Joseph Lambert, the head of Haiti's dismantled senate
, as provisional president on Friday, as well as Ariel Henry, whom Mose had chosen to replace Joseph a day before his death, but who had not yet taken office or formed a government.
Joseph expressed his dismay at the prospect of others exploiting Mose's murder
for political gain.
“I’m not interested in a power struggle,” Joseph, who took over as president with the support of the police and military, said. “There is only one way for people
to become president in Haiti, and that is through elections.”
Joseph spoke as new details emerged about a murder that has taken on a murky tinge, an international conspiracy
involving a Hollywood
actor, a shootout with gunmen holed up in a foreign embassy, and a private security
firm operating out of a vast warehouse in Miami
Among those detained are two Haitian Americans, one of whom worked alongside Sean Penn in the aftermath of the country's devastating 2010 earthquake, and more than a dozen "mercenaries" who were former members of Colombia
's military, according to police.
Some of the suspects were apprehended during a raid
's embassy, where they were believed to have sought refuge; however, National Police Chief Léon Charles stated that another eight suspects were still at large and being sought.
, which occurred before dawn Wednesday at Mose's home, also seriously injured his wife
, who was flown to Miami for surgery
. Joseph said he has spoken with the first lady
, but has not inquired about the attack out of respect for her mourning.
Colombian officials said the men were recruited by four companies and traveled to the Caribbean
country in two groups via the Dominican Republic. U.S.-trained Colombian soldiers are in high demand by private security firms and mercenary armies in global conflict zones due to their experience fighting leftist rebels and powerful drug cartels
Some of the men posted photos
of themselves visiting the presidential palace and other tourist attractions in the Dominican Republic, which shares Hispaniola Island with Haiti, in an unexplainable twist that would have undoubtedly revealed any highly sensitive mission.
Duberney Capador, the sister of one of the deceased suspects, told the Associated Press that she last spoke to her brother late Wednesday, hours after Mose's murder, when the men were holed up in a home and surrounded, desperately attempting to negotiate their way out of a shootout.
“He told me not to tell our mother so she wouldn’t be worried,” Yenny Capador, fighting back tears, explained.
It is unknown who planned the attack, and many questions remain about how the perpetrators were able to break into the president's residence while posing as US Drug Enforcement Administration agents, with little resistance from those tasked with protecting the president.
Capador stated that her brother, who retired from the Colombian army with the rank of sergeant in 2019, was hired by a private security firm with the understanding that he would provide protection for powerful individuals in Haiti.
Capador said she knew almost nothing about the company, but she shared a photo of her brother wearing a uniform emblazoned with the logo of CTU Security, a previously unknown company based in Doral, a Miami suburb popular with Colombian migrants
The wife of one of those arrested, Francisco Uribe, told Colombia's W Radio that the CTU offered the men about $2,700 per month — a pittance for a dangerous international mission but far more than the majority of the men, non-commissioned officers and professional soldiers, earned from their retirement
Uribe is being investigated for his alleged role in the 2008 murder of an unarmed civilian, which he attempted to pass off as a combat death, as part of a wave of thousands of extrajudicial killings that rocked Colombia's U.S.-trained army more than a decade ago.
CTU Security was established in 2008, and its president is Antonio Intriago, who is also associated with several other Florida-registered entities, some of which have since been dissolved, including the Counter Terrorist Unit Federal Academy, the Venezuelan American National Council, and Doral Food
CTU's website lists two addresses, one of which was a gray-colored warehouse that was closed Friday with no sign indicating who it belonged to, and the other was a small suite under a different company's name in a modern office building a few blocks away, where a receptionist said Intriago stops by every few days to collect mail and hold meetings.
“We are the ones who are most interested in clarifying what happened, so that my brother's reputation does not remain as it is,” Capador said. “He was a humble, hardworking man with honors and decorations.”
In addition to the Colombians, two Haitian Americans were apprehended by police.
According to Le Nouvelliste, Investigative Judge
Clément Nol stated that the arrested Americans, James Solages and Joseph Vincent, stated that the attackers intended only to arrest Mose and not kill him, and that Solages and Vincent were acting as translators for the attackers.
On a now-defunct website for a charity
he founded in 2019 in south Florida
to assist residents of his home town of Jacmel, on Haiti's southern coast, Solages, 35, described himself as a "certified diplomatic agent," a child
advocate, and a budding politician.
He briefly worked as a driver and bodyguard for a relief organization founded by Penn in the aftermath of a magnitude 7.0 earthquake that killed 300,000 Haitians and left tens of thousands homeless
, and he lists the Canadian Embassy in Haiti as a previous employer.
Calls to the charity and Solages' associates were not returned, but a relative in south Florida said Solages has no military training and does not believe he was involved in the killing.
“I feel like my son murdered my brother because I love my president and I love James Solages,” Schubert Dorisme, Solages' aunt, told WPLG in Miami.
Joseph refused to name any of the attackers, but claimed that Mose had made many enemies by going after powerful oligarchs who had profited for years from overly generous state contracts.
Authorities have asked presidential candidate and well-known businessman Reginald Boulos and former Senate president Youri Latortue to meet with prosecutors early next week for questioning; no further details have been provided, and none of the men have been charged.
Analysts believe whoever planned the heinous attack had ties to a criminal underworld that has flourished in recent years as corruption
and drug trafficking have become entrenched. Even before Mose's murder, Port-au-Prince had been on edge due to the growing power of gangs that displaced more than 14,700 people last month alone as they torched and ransacked homes in a territorial dispute.
Prosecutors also intend to question members of Mose's security detail, including the president's security coordinator, Jean Laguel Civil, and Dimitri Hérard, head of the National Palace's General Security Unit.
“If you are in charge of the president’s security, where have you been?” Port-au-Prince prosecutor Bed-Ford Claude was quoted as saying in French-language newspaper Le Nouvelliste. “What did you do to prevent this fate for the president?”
Evens Sanon and videographer Pierre-Richard Luxama in Port-au-Prince, Astrid Suarez in Bogota, Colombia, and Trenton Daniel in New York