ISIS Executes Christian Hostages During Muslim Holiday

Zaid Benjamin/Twitter
Zaid Benjamin/Twitter/screenshot

The Islamic State has released a videotaped execution of three Assyrian Christian hostages, captured during a February offensive in Syria. The lives of hundreds more Christian captives remain in the balance, a point the savages emphasized by making three of them beg for ransom payments on camera.

“The footage shows IS militants wearing camouflage gear and black balaclavas shooting the captives in the back of the head after they introduce themselves to the camera,” reports International Business Times. “The hostages – Ashur Abraham, Bassam Isa Mishael and Abd al-Masih Izarya Nwiya – are seen dressed in the orange jumpsuits that the jihadist group has used for other killings.”

While the full video appears to no longer be available online, clips have surfaced on Twitter. [WARNING: Graphic]

Once the three victims have been gunned down, three more orange-suited hostages are made to sit in their place, with the bodies of the slain men lying on the ground in front of them. These new hostages appeal for the payment of ransoms for their freedom and say there will be more executions if the demands are not met.

Another IBT post on the video notes that before carrying out the murders, one of the ISIS fighters “says that the church is responsible for the death of these men as it failed to protect them.”

There are over 250 Assyrian Christians—including women and children—in the hands of the Islamic State, which has demanded up to $100,000 apiece for their freedom. In the video, a demand for $50,000 ransom for each of the surviving captives is made; ISIS demands were reportedly lowered when it became clear the Assyrian Christian community could not afford to pay the $23 million needed to free all of the hostages. The payment of such ransoms is a major income stream for ISIS.

According to Assyrian activists quoted by IBT, the execution depicted in the video was carried out two weeks ago, during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.

The UK Guardian reports the hostages appearing in this video were “captured in February when Isis overran a series of Assyrian settlements on the Khabur river in north-east Syria – villages that were populated in the early 20th century by Assyrian Christians fleeing Turkish genocide.”

As the Guardian observes, the ISIS rampage “has effectively ended centuries of coexistence between Muslims and Christians in Syria and Iraq,” driving thousands of Chaldean and Assyrian Christians from their homes, while subjugating others and forcing them to pay the traditional jizya tax imposed by Muslim conquerors on captive populations. Ancient churches and other historic structures have been destroyed, erasing testaments to centuries of history, and there have been reports of forced conversions, although Assyrian activists believe some of these claims to be ISIS propaganda.

“We condemn this latest act of barbarism in the strongest possible terms. The systematic ethno-religious cleansing of Assyrians/Syriacs/Chaldeans continues. They are helpless. They are children. They are women. They are somebody’s father and brother,” said A Demand For Action, an activist group seeking protection for religious minorities in the Middle East.

“We plea and beg of the international community to intervene immediately. We have been driven out of our ancestral lands. We have been killed and crucified. The international community must act now to save lives of others kidnapped,” the ADFA statement continued.

“If we want to look at who carries responsibility for the current situation, then we don’t need to look any further than the West and the international community, who have ignored our cries and pleas for help,” ADFA founder Nuri Kino told Christian Today after the videotaped execution of the Assyrians.

“Christianity in the Middle East is becoming extinct,” Kino warned. “It cannot survive without a safe haven and international protection. As a people, the Assyrians/Chaldeans/Syriacs, who were among the first to embrace Christianity, are already on the endangered list. Without a safe haven in the Nineveh Plains, their ancestral home, our people will be a thing of the past.”

Another Assyrian activist, Nahren Anweya, called for “special operations” to rescue the remaining hostages. “It is extremely critical that special operations heads in immediately and frees these indigenous Christian people before they’re all executed,” she declared.


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