March 31, 2014

Syrian Catholic priest beheaded in Gassanieh, northern #Syria (VIDEO)

François Murad, 49, was beheaded by jihadists after being accused of collaborating with President Bashar Assad’s regime.
A Catholic priest has been publicly beheaded by Syrian terrorists after accusations of collaborating with President Bashar Assad's regime

Franciscan Father Francois Murad was executed among two others in the countryside of Edlib in northern Syria last week before its filming was uploaded online.

The Vatican confirmed Murad's death Monday, declaring his martyrdom by the hands of Syrian jihadists after he was pulled from the convent for the Custody of the Holy Land where he had taken refuge, June 23.

The circumstances surrounding the 49-year-old priest's death are not entirely known.

Local sources told the Vatican the convent was ambushed by militants linked to the jihadi group, Jabhat al-Nusra.

In the extremely graphic video, a man identified as Murad is seen sitting cross-legged in the grass with his hands bound as a mob of men around him shout in Arabic.

Several are seen shamelessly holding up cameras to record the horrific killings, stepping as close as they can to the aftermath of bloody bodies.

"Lately, father Murad sent me some messages that clearly showed how conscious he was of living in a dangerous situation, and offered his life for peace in Syria and around the world," Archbishop Jacques Behnan Hindo, titular of the Syrian Catholic Archeparchy in Hassaké-Nisibis reported to Fides News Agency.

"The whole story of Christians in the Middle East is marked and made fruitful by the blood of the martyrs of many persecutions," he said.

According to the Vatican's press release, Murad traveled to the area after becoming an ordained priest to help construct a coenobitic monastery dedicated to St. Simon Stylites in the village of Gassanieh.

"After the start of the Civil War, the monastery of St. Simon had been bombed and Fr. Murad had moved to the convent of the Custody for safety reasons and to give support to the remaining few, along with another religious and nuns of the Rosary."

"Let us pray," wrote the Custody of the Holy Land Pierbattista Pizzaballa OFM, "so that this absurd and shameful war ends soon and that the people of Syria can go back to living a normal life.

"Unfortunately Syria has now become a battleground not only between Syrian forces, but also between Arab countries and the international community."

Jabhat al-Nusra has been identified as an Islamist terrorist organization by the U.S. government since 2011 while working in collaboration with al-Qaeda in Iraq.

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