ISIS to Execute 180 Assyrian Christians

Last February ISIS captured 230 hostages in a massive raid on Syria’s Khabur river valley villages, among this group are 180 Assyrian Christians that are being held for ransom. Ongoing negotiations have been persistent in hopes of freeing the hostages after reports that the Islamic State had originally demanded $23 million for the 230 hostages.

Syrian Catholic Archbishop Jacques Behnan Hindo reported that recent headway was being made in negotiations after explaining to ISIS the impossibility of their demand. The Islamic State was said to have reduced their asking price, although no specific amount was released. The archbishop was also quoted saying that buses were already being organized in preparation to retrieve the hostages. While the Islamic State has released few of their hostages from Khabur, they have still held on to the majority of their captives.

However it has just been announced this past week that the negotiations, led by Bishop Ephrem Otnaial, the head of the Church of the East in Syria, have died out with the jihadists. Osama Edward, the director of the Assyrian Human Rights Network reports that talks “have been suspended due to the unbearable demands of the terror group.”

ISIS has a record of targeting Assyrian Christians and has given a concerted effort to root them out of their own communities. Within the past week, the IS released a video of the execution of three Assyrian Christians. Reports have surfaced in Sweden of threats targeted to Assyrian Christians from supporters of the Islamic States. Graffiti messages and ISIS symbols saying “the caliphate is here,” “convert or die” were found in Gothenburg on two stores owned by Assyrians.

Diana Yaqco, a spokesperson for the persecution activist group, A Demand For Action, released a statement saying, “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.”

Reverend Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham, has also publicly condemned these acts by ISIS. In a call to action on his Facebook page, Graham said, “It is genocide — and the world seems largely silent about it. Genocide perpetrated by the Islamic State against Christians, Yazidis and other religious minorities of Syria and Iraq. And their methods are unimaginably cruel and heinous.”