January 17, 2005

Archbishop Kidnapped in Iraq (UPDATED)

Mosul is a base of operation for The Army of Ansar al Sunnah, and I suspect that this is their handiwork. Right: Archbishop Basile Georges Casmoussa at the UCIP World Congress 2004.

Critical update 1/18/05: Archbishop Basile Georges Casmoussa freed! No ransom paid. Details at this post.

Reuters:

The Catholic archbishop of the Iraqi city of Mosul was kidnapped Monday in what the Vatican called an "act of terrorism."

Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls told Reuters the Holy See had received news of the kidnapping of Archbishop Basile Georges Casmoussa in Mosul. The spokesman demanded his immediate release but gave no details of the abduction.

BBC News:
A Catholic archbishop in the northern Iraq city of Mosul has been kidnapped by insurgents, the Vatican says. Archbishop Basile Georges Casmoussa, 66, was abducted from outside his church in the east of the city.

The Vatican said in a statement that it deplored "in the firmest way such a terrorist act", and asked that the archbishop be freed immediately.

There have been a number of attacks on Iraq's Christian minority. Two churches were bombed in Mosul in December.

Developing.....

More on Archbishop Basile Georges Casmoussa,a Syrian by birth, he was Archbishop of the Catholic Syrian Church--which is affilated with the Roman Catholic Church.

Recently quoted as saying, "The terrorist groups that carry out the attacks “hope that many, many more Christians will go. Their strategy is to create fear among the Christians and push them out of Iraq,”

UPDATE I: No claims of responsibility aired yet on al Jazeera, but only this story:

Casmusa, 66, leader of the city's Syrian Catholic community, was seized at around 5pm local time (1400 GMT) as he was about to enter his car, Father Faraj told AFP.

The armed men tossed him into the trunk of their vehicle before speeding away, according to the priest, who follows the rival Chaldean rite.

The Chaldean patriarch in Baghdad, Emmanuel Delly, said Casmusa "was abducted outside his home as he was returning from a pastoral visit in the diocese of Mosul".

"He was abducted and taken off in a car. We don't know who took him, nor the reason why," Delly told the missionary news agency Misna by telephone.

UPDATE II: There has been some discussion at other blogs as to the possible motivation for kidnapping the Archbishop, some speculating that this could be a simple act of extortion for money.

However, one need look no farther than a recent communique from Abu Musab al Zarqawi to see why Christians in general have a great deal to fear in the Middle East. Al Qaeda in Iraq justified the recent murder of Amer Nayef saying he was "the deputy police chief of the Jews and Christians" and that Nayef's son was murdered because he "serves the pagan guard."

The terrorists really believe that the liberation of Iraq was a reenactment of the Crusades. Iraq is just another chapter in the Crusades and who better to symbolize Christianity's victory than Archbishop Casmoussa?

The deep paranoia of Muslims in the Middle East plays out in such a way that all Christians should now consider themselves targets. Jews who once lived in Arab countries can tell you what I am talking about. All Jews in Muslim lands are considered potential spies for the "Zionist entity."

I suspect the same suspicions and paranoia will now scapegoat Christians as responsible for the ills of Iraqi society and as possible collaborators with the "Crusader forces."

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 01:25 PM | Comments |