ICC Note: In the wake of the Syrian Crisis, Andrew Doran, a State Department employee, tells his story of sneaking in to the distraught country. His periodic visits to the Middle East are opportunities he uses to aid Christian villages and communities in an attempt to slow down the Christian Exodus. As the political situation worsens, persecution is further driving these Christians out and bringing more radical Islamists in.
By: Sean Curran
5/26/14 Syria (Evening Tribune) – As the conflict in Syria rages on, news reports and countless stories continue to pour out depicting the horror and tragedy of the situation. Andrew Doran has one of these stories.
Doran, born and raised in Hornell, is now a lawyer and consultant for the State Department in Washington D.C. He also enjoys writing on U.S. policy in the Middle East and periodically visits the Middle East to help Christian communities in any way he can.
In January, Doran was on one of these visits in Turkey with Jordan Allott, a British-born filmmaker, when he made the decision to cross the Syrian border and visit a Christian community.
“There are several reasons that I wanted to go to the village in Syria,” said Doran. “So many Americans, including myself, just seem to have a desire to help those around the world who are being persecuted or having their human rights violated. We just try to protect those who are vulnerable.”
Doran and Allott were helped across the border by a Turkish man named Sabri. They faced heavy mud, gunfire, land-mines and possible capture through the dead of night just to reach the small village.
“The al-Qaida here are without a doubt the most terrifying humans on the planet,” said Doran. “Jordan and I knew that if we were captured, we would be killed—and not in a nice way.”
Once they reached the village, Doran and Allott met with the leaders of the local Syriac Military Council, all of whom were armed with Kalashnikovs. Sitting there damp, exhausted and probably still terrified, Doran watched as Sabri was welcomed by the leaders. One of the leaders approached Doran, who was wearing a cross, and proclaimed him to be “Qaida!” while dragging his finger across his throat as the international symbol of beheading.
Luckily for Doran, the man was simply showing off his dark sense of humor. But as Doran instinctively went to put the cross away, every person in the roomed told him no.
“After he made the joke everyone in the room laughed,” said Doran. “But as I went to put the cross away, they all stopped me. The cross was something to be proud of, not something to keep hidden.”