Syrian jihadists behead Catholic priest, 2 others

Warning: The video below includes extremely graphic content. Three men, including a Catholic priest, are beheaded, and their heads are then displayed atop their corpses.

Jihadists in Syria kidnapped a Catholic priest in the Idlib area and beheaded him as scores of onlookers, including children, cheered and recorded the event on their cell phones. The Vatican reported last week that the priest was captured by fighters "linked" to the Al Nusrah Front for the People in the Levant, al Qaeda's affiliate in Syria.

The Vatican confirmed that Father Fran├žois Murad was killed on June 23 after jihadists affiliated with the Al Nusrah Front overran his monastery in Gassanieh, a town in the countryside in the northern province of Idlib.

"According to local sources, the monastery where Fr. Murad was staying was attacked by militants linked to the jihadi group Jabhat al Nusrah [the Al Nusrah Front]," said the Fides News Agency, the Vatican's official media outlet.

Video that purported to show Father Murad's execution has emerged on the LiveLeak video sharing website.

In the video, Father Murad and two other men are seen kneeling on the ground with their hands bound behind their backs. A crowd of armed men as well as young boys watch as a bearded jihadist makes a speech.

The crowd then begins to chant "Allahu Akbar" ("God is greatest"), and another bearded jihadist dressed in black takes out a knife and begins to behead one of the men. People in the crowd press close and scramble to take video.

The same jihadist proceeds to behead the other two men. The heads of the murdered men are then placed on top of their corpses.

The jihadists claimed that two of the slain men were linked to Syria's military establishment, according to Steven Miller, a research analyst at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.

Miller said that the jihadist who made the opening speech is speaking in "broken Arabic."

"I would guess that the man handing out the sentence is a foreign jihadi, though I can't tell from where," Miller said.

The man making the speech claimed that at least one of the men "had the phone numbers of Syrian military officers in Aleppo stored on his cellphone," Miller told The Long War Journal. "In addition, the foreign jihadist alleged that some of the men were stopped with weapons and ammunition issued by the Syrian military."

The Al Nusrah Front, the Islamic State in Iraq, and the Muhajireen Army are all known to have numerous foreigners in both leadership positions and in the rank and file. Idlib is considered to be a stronghold of the Al Nusrah Front.

Kidnapped archbishops still missing

Christians in Syria have increasingly been targeted by Islamists, who believe Christians are colluding with government forces in the Syrian civil war. On June 28, a suicide bomber detonated his vest outside a church in a Christian neighborhood in Damascus, killing four people. It is unclear if the bomber was targeting the church or a nearby pro-government militia.

On April 22, two senior Christian leaders in the region, Syriac Orthodox Archbishop John Ibrahim and Greek Orthodox Archbishop Paul Yagizi, were kidnapped near the Turkish border, and their driver was killed. They were on their way to Aleppo to arrange the release of two kidnapped priests, Fathers Michael Kayyal and Maher Mahfouz, who had been abducted on Feb. 9, the Catholic News Agency reported.

It appears likely that the two senior clerics are being held by al Qaeda's Syrian affiliate, the Al Nusrah Front. According to an April 24 report in the Christian Science Monitor, Bishop Tony Yazigi, a relative of kidnapped Bishop Boulos Yazigi, said the kidnappers were believed to be Chechen fighters from the Al Nusrah Front.

On May 8, Acting Syrian National Council President George Sabra told Lebanese officials and Syriac clerics that the archbishops were being held by a "small group" of rebels in the town of Bshaqtin outside Aleppo and were in good health, according to the Daily Star. A Lebanese Syriac Orthodox bishop said at the time: "I don't know whether the Christians would leave the region because of this or stay and react to this kidnapping in a way that we do not want."

In early June, Pope Francis commented on the case, asking for the release of the captives and for prayers for the two men and for all victims of the Syrian conflict.

According to a recent report on the website of Sat-7, a Christian news outlet for the Middle East and North Africa: "An officer in the Free Syrian Army suggested that the leader of Al-Nusra Front who resides in Al-Mashhad village, known as Abu Al-Banat, is the one behind the kidnapping of the Aleppo archbishops, noting that they were held hostage at Al-Mashhad village, and one of them might have been murdered."


READER COMMENTS: "Syrian jihadists behead Catholic priest, 2 others "

Posted by mike merlo at July 1, 2013 12:04 PM ET:

Beyond barbaric. Both sides deserve to burn in H*** Maybe Putin is right in supporting Assad.

Posted by Bill Baar at July 1, 2013 12:30 PM ET:

It's not the revolution of 2011. I think things would have turned differently had the world intervened then. Syria seems without hope now.

Posted by Gerald at July 1, 2013 12:32 PM ET:

Men like these are killed by our drones and Special Forces! I refuse to have sympathy for them or their hangers on!!

Posted by AcademicGuerrilla82 at July 1, 2013 12:42 PM ET:

Miller said that the jihadist who made the opening speech is speaking in "broken Arabic."

"I would guess that the man handing out the sentence is a foreign jihadi, though I can't tell from where," Miller said.

@ Bill and Lisa,
The fighter who is making the speech in broken Arabic in the beginning is also wearing a pakol hat, isn't this hat common indigenous attire within the Pashtun areas of Afghanistan and the FATA of Pakistan, as well as Kashmir and Uzbekistan? I know this detail might sound like an inquiry from Captain Obvious, but it's the first video I've seen where a fighter is wearing one.

Posted by Pablo Diablo at July 1, 2013 2:13 PM ET:

There really is no coming to terms with these types of fanatics. How many of these sickos have already immigrated to the US and how many more will be coming here? Guess the Obama doctrine of deference and apology really doesn't count for much.

Posted by Mr T at July 1, 2013 2:17 PM ET:

War crimes. Cowards killing tied up men. What a disgraceful lot of savage murderers.

Posted by donowen at July 1, 2013 2:28 PM ET:

Western technology will help lead to the demise of Islam as practiced by these individuals-cell phones demonstrate for all to see the lack of any humanity in these animals. Drones are merciful compared to being butchered.

Posted by Jim Cornelius at July 1, 2013 4:29 PM ET:

I was curious about the Pakol, too.

There are no good outcomes possible here.

Posted by mike merlo at July 1, 2013 4:49 PM ET:

@Jim Cornelius
"There are no good outcomes possible here." Both sides kill, murder, massacre, slaughter etc., each other till neither side has any people left?

Posted by Joe at July 1, 2013 5:37 PM ET:

This is the war Assad wanted to fight. He did everything except beg for Al Qaeda to come in and his hope would that they would behave precisely the way that Zarqawi behaved in Anbar.

It is a catastrophe for everyone in Syria, but the Jihadists are actually the only thing that has preserved the Baathist regime. If it was not for them and the fear of them, then no one would be backing the regime except the 5 or 10 percent of the population that actually profits from their continued reign.

Posted by Endtimesnow at July 1, 2013 5:59 PM ET:

Rev 6:9 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained.

Posted by JRP at July 1, 2013 6:31 PM ET:

Whether this personal in your face brutality, or pressure cooker bombs in Boston or the disfigurement of women deemed too "Westernized", it all shows what we are defending against and why the narcissistic antics of an Edward Snowden or a Julian Assange are so dangerous to our self-preservation. In WWII Hollywood put together a film named "Why We Fight" or something close to that. It was Allied anti-Nazi propaganda and well worth the investment. We need to duplicate that in our present struggle with World-wide fascist Islamism.

Posted by gaz at July 1, 2013 7:27 PM ET:

al nusra has been quite restrained when it comes to sectarian killings in syria, and tends to execute via gun shot.

I would expect this was carried out by either the Islamic state of Iraq and Levant or the muhajaroun army.

Posted by gb at July 1, 2013 7:47 PM ET:

I hope John Kerry views this as he hands out American taxpayer checks to these filthy savages. How can the American government condone these actions by up arming these forces?

Posted by pola at July 1, 2013 8:20 PM ET:

How is their god great when they value the lives of others? I am so broken. How I wish something could be done to end this 'god greatness' once and for-all.

Posted by Will Fenwick at July 1, 2013 8:47 PM ET:

Looks like the Sovereign Military Order of Malta should get back into the business it was founded to do, protect Christians in the middle east. Unlike the Kurds, the Christians don't have powerful militias protecting their neighborhoods and homes.

Posted by mike merlo at July 1, 2013 8:48 PM ET:

Good insight. Hard to argue against that perspective

Posted by NP at July 1, 2013 8:56 PM ET:

Could be a Chechen or AQ military advisor straight from Pakistan. The way he wears his Pakol is also interesting.

Posted by M.H at July 1, 2013 10:00 PM ET:

There is 3 major arabic voices in this video who seems like they are leaders in this execution: the one who is asking to listen to the evidences and it appear like a North African accent, the second who is asking people to set down his accent seems like a middle Eastern accent, and the third one who is standing up and explaining the evidence, he is definitely a person who learned an academic arabic as a second language. All of the three are speaking a modern standard arabic.
They may belong to the Muhajireen ( foreigner) brigade.

Posted by james tekin at July 1, 2013 11:50 PM ET:

if americans were killing muslims like this, every muslim shi'a sunni whatever would go to war with america. but since its christians being murdered its ok. these are the syrian rebels that assad is fighting, the syrian rebels that the us and the isreali's are going to help. all for money.

Posted by Caleb at July 2, 2013 12:13 AM ET:

Like other members here, I too am very interested in the pakol this guy is wearing. Could there, perhaps, be a Pashtun in what appears to be a leadership position within al-Nusra?

Posted by . at July 2, 2013 12:42 AM ET:


Posted by Deere at July 2, 2013 1:11 AM ET:

Bomb the Winners!

Posted by kris at July 2, 2013 1:21 AM ET:

I had sympathy towards Syrian rebels until i saw this video today. the barbarians deserve to rot in hell

Posted by Daniele Raineri at July 2, 2013 2:02 AM ET:

This entry is incorrect. Father Murad was shot dead on Sunday, 22, June and then buried in Latakia on 25 June. The video is from April, the place is a village close to Turkish border, Mashad Ruhin. The leader of the group is "Abu al Banat", a Dagestani national, a Dargin ethnic. He already left Syria. His group disbanded, they declared each other "takfir". They were disliked by the Chechens fighters in Syria and not allowed to stay with them. They were disliked by Syrian rebels as well, because they didn't fight agaist Assad army.

(Please, look at the jackets. Syria in June? Listen to them: "Syrian jihadists"?). They beheaded men accusing them of being with the government and to exert their brutal power. The Vatican indeed confirms the killing of Father Murad, not the authenticity of this video. The "priest" thing is a work by Assad propaganda.

Posted by michael christian at July 2, 2013 3:36 AM ET:

And these are the people Barrack Obama is sending weapons to. The so called "free Syria army" animals are a bunch of terrorists made up of Al-Qaeda members who America is now supporting. I guess the USA has adopted the "if you can't beat them , join them" view when it comes to the war on terror. Shame on these animals, may they rot in hell and shame on America for going against a ruler of a country who has the popular vote. The people of Syria support Assad because they don't want Syria to become a Islamic state.

Posted by Barry Larking at July 2, 2013 3:45 AM ET:

And still they ask "Why are we fighting these people?"

Posted by mike merlo at July 2, 2013 4:19 AM ET:

"Bomb the Winners!" That's funny. Reminds me of having the in-laws 'over' for the Holidays.

Posted by Birbal Dhar at July 2, 2013 4:46 AM ET:

I have no interest in seeing this video, because I know it would be horrific. It's so sad that America, UK and it's allies are supporting so called rebels (i.e. Al Qaeda with some moderates included as bonus !!) who are butchering christians in Syria. Obama, a Christian himself should ask, why am I thinking of sending money to people who destroy my places of worship (churches) and fellow worshippers (Christians). I know Assad is no angel, but seeing what Al Qaeda is doing, makes him look like Mother Theresa !!

Posted by kimball at July 2, 2013 5:49 AM ET:

This is just the beginning, you are lucky with that
deep water ditch.
Better maybe with the dictators (Saddam) you know,
than the total anarcy this arab sponsored sectarian
genocide produces.
There are no straight line here and has never been,
a pointless and always shifting Great Game, that
steadily grinds down millions of lifes.
The madhats in the video? Well, for sure nu Pashtunes
would leave there homesoil for this. Caucasians are
having a fieldday among the rebel rabble and a lot
of kids(thousands) from plays like sweden, denmark
et.cet. with Paki father and bimbo nordic mother
are plugged in to some kid brainwashing wahabi
program. It won't get better ever maybe.
Iran seem to wisen up to the anarcy and a bit to
sophisticated to get ddragged down forever.

Posted by Pakol at July 2, 2013 7:28 AM ET:

Small observation: the Pakol is not worn in a normal way, it is pulled down too much.

Posted by Steve m at July 2, 2013 7:52 AM ET:

JRP, how do you explain the fact that we are trying to arm these animals? Oh yeah, they are going to help in the fight against Assas and Iran. They may be animals but they are OUR animals. That logic worked perfectly last time, right?

Posted by Bob at July 2, 2013 8:44 PM ET:

Brutality aside, can anyone here interpret the charges laid down against the men?

Is it as simple as being a non-believer or is it Assad based??

Posted by Stephanie at July 3, 2013 3:32 AM ET:

Wow, so sad. This is absolutely heartbreaking.

Posted by Just asking at July 3, 2013 6:40 AM ET:

Rebels with advanced anti-tank missile. Is this a sign of the first shipment of advanced weapons promised by pro-Rebel countries like the USA, Qatar and Saudi Arabia?

Posted by M.H at July 3, 2013 1:01 PM ET:

The two who are executed were charged with helping the regime against the Mujahidine and transferring weapons+ ammunitions in a car to the regime. The third one was not killed because he still under investigation, he is charged with having regime officers phone numbers stored in his mobile phone.

Posted by mike merlo at July 3, 2013 1:38 PM ET:

@Daniele Raineri
Thanks for the post. Where did you get the following info:
"The leader of the group is "Abu al Banat", a Dagestani national, a Dargin ethnic. He already left Syria. His group disbanded, they declared each other "takfir". They were disliked by the Chechens fighters in Syria and not allowed to stay with them. They were disliked by Syrian rebels as well, because they didn't fight agaist Assad army."

"The "priest" thing is a work by Assad propaganda."

Posted by Andor at July 3, 2013 2:17 PM ET:

According to the Jihadist site, KavkazCenter, coddled and hosted by Finland, Abu Banat is native of Daghestan, Russia. Of course, the beasts claim he is the "Russian agent provocateur".
Regarding two other priests - they were wrapped in the belts with explosives and murdered.
Unfortunately, this item is available only in Russian language today. I am sure they will have it translated in a couple of days
But here is another "news" that is equally alarming:
Caucasus Emirate Emir Dokku Abu Usman ceased moratorium on operations in heartland Russia and urged to prevent Olympic games in Sochi

Posted by mpdman at July 3, 2013 6:30 PM ET:

OK. We need clarification as to who the victims are here. The Vatican is saying this is not the priest in question.
It's a tragedy no matter, but I expect sources to have "good intelligence" as this site professes.

Posted by TY at July 3, 2013 8:37 PM ET:

So, why isn't this condemned by UN and West becomes a sponsor for terror now, not to mention Saudi and Qatar as they are promoter of violence.

Posted by sundoesntrise at July 4, 2013 6:22 PM ET:

It turns out that some pro-Assad Christian group used the video of the beheadings, and claimed that the people being beheaded were "innocent Christians" in order to invoke sympathy from a western audience. The trick here is, is that those men being beheaded were not Christian, but Muslim men convicted of illegal arms trafficking.

The Christian group that claimed the "Christians being beheaded" narrative did so knowing that the western audience they were presenting to did not know Arabic - and that the idea of Christians being killed in Syria would produce a negative emotional reaction, as we have seen so far.

And propping up a horrific dictatorship for the sole reason that "Jihadists" might kill "innocent Christians" is horrific in itself. So white westerners are willing to let the majority of Syria suffer in agony so their co-religionists can be "protected" under a brutal dictatorship??? That is contradictory. People need to remember that the regime only uses Christians and other minorities to keep themselves in power, if Assad had to slaughter all the Christians in Syria to stay on his throne he would have no problem doing it.

It's a pity that the so called enlightened, Christian humanitarian West is still blinded by religious favoritism.

Posted by Delta Mike at July 4, 2013 9:07 PM ET:

What's incomprehensible is the Churches in America still wanting to "dialogue, reach out and have mutual understanding" with the Jihadists. What part of "beheading" do they fail to grasp?

Posted by Rocha at July 4, 2013 10:28 PM ET:

RIP. May God be with them.

Posted by Slick at July 5, 2013 12:26 PM ET:

Everyone keeps referring to "Obama sending aid to the rebels" however, on closer inspection, he has been trying to keep us out of this mess. It's your congressmen (Macain for one) who are pushing to send aid to Syria. And now US troops are being sent to Jordan to"keep an eye" on the situation...really?
It's a matter of time before we are in this goat screw. As a retired US paratrooper, I'm with Deere, let them kill each other, then bomb the winners.

Posted by xolile at July 7, 2013 5:37 AM ET:

America,Brittain,France,Canada and Germany it is indeed obvious that you are hide behind the sheep sheen.This crime is promoted by your countries by this fake democracy your respective countries doesn't want to take the blame that why your countries promote and encourage sectarian and brother against brother killing in order to rule Syria.

Posted by Zoa at July 8, 2013 12:28 AM ET:

To all those barbaric killers, you will have a special place in HELL. RIP.

Posted by Mohd Abdalla at July 14, 2013 12:26 PM ET:

This barbaric act has put islam at a crossroad.