Kidnapped priest

Catholic kidnapped Priest from Syria escapes ISIS with the help of a Muslim friend.

Father Jacques Mourad, a Syrian Catholic priest, has escaped from the hands of Islamic State militants, aided by a Muslim.

Fr. Mourad was at the Monastery of Mar Elian (St. Julian) in Al Qaryatayn, which is located about 60 miles from Homs in Syria, when the ISIS stormed it and took him prisoner in May. He was captured along with another man and was locked up in the monastery's car for four days before being taken to Palmyra, where he joined some 250 other prisoners from Al Qaryatayn, all Christians.

Fr. Mourad, who was the parish priest in Al Qaryatayn, found great inner peace and joy while he was in captivity. He states that he had no problem dying for Christ. He definitely wasn't the first martyr, and he wouldn't be the last. Almost every day, someone would come up to him and ask who he is. Undeterred by the imminent threat of death, he would proudly proclaim he was a Nazarene, in other words a Christian. They would then shout back at him that he was an infidel and if he did not convert, his throat would be slit with a knife.

The priest never bowed to their demand to renounce Christianity and accept Islam.

After spending several months in captivity, the priest managed to escape on a motorbike with the help of a Muslim friend, wearing a disguise. He said that 40 other Christians too were able to flee from the Daesh, which is an acronym for Ad-Dawlah al-Islāmiyah fī 'l-ʿIrāq wa-sh-Shām, or Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in English. This group is also called the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS. It destroyed the 1600-year-old monastery in August, blowing it up with explosives. It had been formerly been a source of refuge for several displaced Syrians, numbering in the hundreds, and it was able to support them only with the help of Muslim donors.

It is estimated that the civil war has claimed nearly a quarter of a million lives, with four million being rendered refugees and another eight million internally displaced. Fr. Mourad, who belongs to the Mar Musa religious community, was also a mediator between the government armed forces and the rebels. He attributes his escape to a miracle brought about the Virgin Mary and is grateful for all those who prayed for him.

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