Two militants of the Islamic State terror group (ISIS/ISIL) executed American-Syrian priest, Father Ibrahim Hanna, Monday after opening fire on his car, killing him along with his father who was traveling with him.
The Islamic State has already claimed responsibility for the lethal assault, which was carried out in the district of Busayra in the region of Syria under the control of the Kurdish-Syrian forces.
Father Nareg Naamo, rector of the Armenian college in Rome and a close friend of the executed priest, said that as Father Hanna was driving his car, two motorcycles flanked the vehicle and opened fire, killing his father.
As the car came to a halt, the two terrorists continued to shoot, hitting the priest repeatedly in the chest. A deacon and a layman who had been traveling in the back seat of the car managed to escape by rushing out of the vehicle, Father Naamo said.
Father Hanna, as a member of the Eastern rite, was married and the father of three children. He was taken immediately to the hospital in Deir ez-Zor and then transferred by ambulance to that of Hassaké for more effective treatments, but he died soon after.
According to Father Naamo, Father Hanna had been on his way to Deir ez-Zor to accompany a mission and check the status of renovation work on the local church. “It was not the first time he went there and yet today was the last,” Father Naamo said.
“Today alone Qamishli has undergone three attacks, caused by a car bomb and two motorcycles,” Father Naamo said, adding that he was “shocked” by the assaults.
At the moment, authorities have confirmed that at least seven persons have died with another 26 wounded, Naamo said.
“We cannot remain silent about this tragedy and we must pray for everyone,” he said. “They strike the shepherd in order to strike the flock.”
Father Antonio Ayvazian, the episcopal vicar of the Armenian Catholic community of Upper Mesopotamia and Northern Syria who worked closely with the slain priest, described Father Hanna as “a generous, helpful priest, always ready to lend a hand. Smiling and happy about his vocation, he never held back. I had great faith in him, it was a great loss.”
Fr. Hanna and his father “are martyrs who, like all dead Syrians, lost their lives to give freedom to this country,” Ayvazian said. “Their blood will still fertilize this earth and beautiful shoots will come.”
Father Ayvazian said that he would stay close to the family of the murdered priest, Father Ibrahim, “or as we all called him here Hovsep — Joseph — the priestly name he had taken after his ordination.”
The funeral services for Father Hanna will take place in the Cathedral of Saint Joseph in Qamishli at noon on November 12.