Syrian Catholics in Mosul targeted for their faith; captors didn’t seek ransom.
ISTANBUL, September 23 (Compass Direct News) – An unknown group of armed men killed a Syrian Catholic in violence-plagued Mosul, Iraq two weeks after his father was kidnapped and murdered.
The gunmen killed Rayan Nafei Jamooa near his home on Sept. 10. Few details have emerged in the murder case, but sources said he and his father were targeted purely for their faith. Nassar Jamooa, the victim’s father, was kidnapped two weeks before his son’s murder; the elder man’s body was found four days later in the city’s western industrial area.
A shrinking minority in Iraq, Christians are frequently kidnapped for a mix of financial and religious reasons, but Nassar Jamooa’s kidnappers did not ask for any ransom. He and his son were targeted strictly for their faith, said a clergyman.
“Nobody asked about money, they just kidnapped and killed him,” said Father Bashar Warda, dean of St. Peter’s Seminary in Ankawa, a small town near Erbil. “The reason [for Nassar Jamooa’s kidnapping] would definitely be a religious one.”
The murder comes amid other attacks against Mosul’s Christian population. In August, Haytham Khadar was killed inside his workshop by unknown armed men, according to Iraqi Christian website Ankawa.com.
In February, armed militants kidnapped Mosul’s Chaldean Archbishop Paulus Faraj Rahho, holding him for a $2.5 million ransom and demanding Christians in Mosul begin attacking U.S. soldiers. The archbishop was found dead on March 13.
Last October, two Syrian Catholic priests were kidnapped in Mosul while heading to St. Fatima Church to celebrate Mass and held for a week at a $1 million ransom. Church leaders did not confirm whether they had paid the ransom.
While the city’s security has improved following Iraqi military operations against Mosul’s militia, criminal and al-Qaeda forces in March and April, the situation for Christians remains tenuous.
Many Christians have fled Iraq from the violence embroiling the country since the toppling of Saddam Hussein. Attacks against non-Muslims are so common that police do not bother to investigate the kidnappings and murders of low-status Mosul residents such as Rayan and Nassar Jamooa.
“There are many incidents going on around Mosul, so nobody is bothering with an investigation,” Fr. Warda said. “Hundreds of incidents occurred like this last year and in Mosul especially.”
According to the U.S. State Department 2008 Report on International Religious Freedom, the Iraqi Christian population in 2003 was between 800,000 and 1.2 million. This year estimates of the Christian population have ranged from 550,000 to 800,000.
Mosul, the ancient biblical city of Nineveh located 250 miles northwest of Baghdad, has the highest proportion of Christians of major Iraqi cities.
Report from Compass Direct News