The Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) released a video to flaunt an Assyrian Christian man who allegedly converted to Islam. Analysts believe he is one of the 220 Assyrian Christians ISIS kidnapped in Syria in February.
Sargon David claimed he shed his Christian faith and embraced Islam of his own free will. He then pleaded for his fellow Christians and family to also convert to Islam. The video shows David “embracing Islamic State gestures, such as holding his finger in the ‘1’ sign, and hugging militants.” The militants accept David and address him as Abu Omar.
“Many of them (Assyrian hostages and stranded civilians) converted to Islam without any pressure from our side,” claimed one terrorist. “They’ve chosen the right side of history.”
An unidentified source told ARA News the militants filmed the video “in the village of Tel al-Jayer.”
“The Islamic State is holding Assyrian abductees in this village following sudden attacks on Tel Temir’s surrounding villages by the Kurdish fighters and allies last February,” said the source.
Most were not convinced by the video. Syrian Kurdish journalist Egid Yusuf said an Assyrian Christian would not “convert to another religion if not under torture or threatened with death.”
“By such acts, the group aims to attract the sympathy of Muslims worldwide,” he explained. “This is mere propaganda through which the group tries to show mercy towards Christian hostages after obliging them to convert to Islam.”
ISIS released 19 hostages in early March. One hostage, only known as Robert, told the Assyrian International News Agency (AINA) that the group prohibited them from returning to their homes despite setting them “free.” On the day they were released, the militants told the Assyrians they cannot stay in the country. If the Islamic State captured any of them again, they were told, they would die. A hired car driven by a non-Islamic State member drove the hostages back to the Hasaka province. Robert said the people were scared, but very happy “to see the church of St. Mary full and all the people there.” They will not be allowed to stay there, however, and Robert claimed the Assyrians were on their way to Lebanon.
On March 10, the Vatican ambassador in Damascus said ISIS did not release the 52 Assyrian families on March 9 “because Kurdish forces bombed the caravan containing the families.” ISIS retaliated by delaying their release for a day. Catholic Herald reported the terrorist group released some Christians, but kidnapped more hostages. Christian Post reported on March 16 that ISIS still holds the majority of the 220 kidnapped Assyrians.