FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
New video released on Wednesday, October 7, shows ISIS militants executing three Assyrian Christian men, believed to be among more than 250 captives taken hostage by ISIS in February, 2015
10/08/2015 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that a new video released by the Islamic jihadist group ISIS (also known as the Islamic State or ISIL) shows the execution of three Assyrian Christian men, believed to be among the more than 250 Christians held by the jihadist group since February 2015.
The men executed in the video have been identified as Dr. Abdel-Maseeh Aniyah of Tal Jazirah (Al-Hasakah), Ashur Rustam Abraham of Tal Jazirah, and Bassam Issa Michael from Tal Shamiram (Al-Jazirah), Leith Fadel, Editor-in-Chief of Al Mas Dar News reported.
In a style that has become familiar for execution videos released by ISIS, the three men are dressed in orange jumpsuits and forced to kneel in front of militants wearing camouflage and black masks. The men were killed by a pistol shot to the head from behind.
The executions are said to have been carried out in the Hassakeh region of Syria on the morning of September 23, the same day that Muslims commemorated the “Feast of the Sacrifice” (Eid al-Adha), but “It is not known why ISIS waited two weeks to release the video,” said the Assyrian International News Agency (AINA).
In the latest video, ISIS calls for a ransom payment of $50,000 USD for the release of the Assyrian Christians still being held. “Assyrian human rights organizations, along with a few religious leaders have been begging them since the kidnapping occurred to release them,” Nahren Anweya, an Assyrian American Christian Activist told ICC. “They have been asking for ransoms as high as $100,000 per hostage,” Anweya said, something that church leaders had also confirmed in April.
“These men were from the original group of hostages taken from Khabour,” Anweya told ICC. The exact number of hostages taken in the February 23 raid on Assyrian villages in the Khabour region of Syria remains unclear. Initial reports were that at least 90 were taken and the number has climbed to more than 250.
In the video, ISIS threatens to execute 280 hostages if the ransom amount is not paid. According to AINA, the number of hostages still held is 202, accounting for 48 who have been released and the killing of these three. A release sent to ICC by the Assyrian Monitor for Human Rights (AMHR) stated that there were 185 still being held as hostages.
“What draws our attention to this crime is that it is the first of its kind against the Assyrians and Christians in Syria,” Jamil Diarbakerly, head of AMHR, told ICC. While ISIS in Syria has posted numerous videos showing executions of “apostates” or “spies”, this is the first video of Christians being executed.
These executions just again demonstrate the magnitude of the atrocities going on in Syria. Islamic extremist groups such as ISIS and al-Qaeda affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra, are targeting religious and ethnic minorities as they attempt to solidify their control. Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have also been responsible for tens of thousands of the more than 250,000 deaths since the conflict started in 2011.
Also participating in the fighting are members of the U.S. led Global Coalition, along with Kurdish fighters, and now the entrance of Russian forces have made for a complicated situation and an increase in violence as there are battles to control territory. “Russian military intervention in Syria has to do with what is happening,” Diabakerly said, in the aftermath of these executions.
“The only solution to protect these ancient communities would be to place them in an internationally protected safe haven on their ancestral lands of the Nineveh plains [in Iraq],” Anweya said, while at the same time pressing for special forces to intervene to release the other hostages.
Todd Daniels, Regional Manager for the Middle East said, “Our hearts break at the latest news of the execution of Christians in Syria. These three men have lost their lives and dozens more may soon follow while global leaders wonder what to do next. The very future of a Christian community in these lands is at stake. A genocide is taking place and the world is watching these communities be erased from the map. How many more lives must be lost before the world will act to end this suffering?”
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