Islamist terrorists killed 16 at nursing home.
(Morning Star News) – A Catholic priest kidnapped in Yemen almost 10 months ago appealed for help in a video released this week by a terrorist group.
The Rev. Tom Uzhunnalil was kidnapped on March 4 in Aden, Yemen when a group of militants, thought to belong to an offshoot of the Islamic State (IS) movement, killed 16 people in an attack on the Aden Care Home, a nursing home facility.
In his statement on the video, which was released on Christmas Day, Uzhunnalil said he was kidnapped, “Because I was working for the Christian religion and the church.”
Uzhunnalil then went on to say he felt abandoned by his religious leaders and claimed that if he were a priest of European descent, his captivity would have been taken more seriously. The priest is a native of India.
“Nothing has been done by Pope Francis or the Bishop of Abu Dhabi to get me released, in spite of contact being made by my captors,” he said. “Dear Pope Francis, dear Holy Father, as a father please take care of my life.”
Uzhunnalil implored Christians in his native India to put pressure on authorities by using their “might to help me to safe my life … Please take care of my life.”
Before he was kidnapped, Uzhunnalil was clean-shaven. In the video he had a full beard and appeared weak and out-of-breath. Speaking hesitantly, he said his health was deteriorating and that he was “very sad and depressed.”
Bishop Paul Hinder, the apostolic vicar of southern Arabia, told Morning Star News that Uzhunnalil appeared to be under duress when the video was made.
“Listening to the video, I got the impression that it has been produced under extreme pressure on Father Tom,” Hinder said.
He declined to comment further, citing ongoing efforts to secure Uzhunnalil’s release.
“It is part of the nature of such dramatic events that the steps undertaken cannot be revealed until their goal has been reached,” he said.
In a press statement on Tuesday (Dec. 27), vicariate officials said the church had made “countless appeals from the highest levels to secure his release.”
“Pope Francis made a heartfelt appeal to the kidnappers to release Father Tom on Sunday the 10th of April 2016, ‘In the hope given us by the Risen Christ, I renew my appeal for the liberation of all persons seized in areas of armed conflict: in particular, I desire to remember the Salesian priest, Tom Uzhunnalil, kidnapped at Aden in Yemen this past March fourth,’” the statement read.
The statement also mentioned the midnight Christmas Mass at the Cathedral Parish of St. Joseph’s in Abu Dhabi, where the bishop and tens of thousands gathered and prayed in silence for Uzhunnalil’s safety.
On March 4 at approximately 8:30 a.m., a group of militant Islamic extremists entered the nursing home in Aden and killed 16 people.
The Catholic news site Crux reported that the single survivor of the attack, a nun known as Sister Sally, said the gunmen first killed a guard and a driver at the home and then moved on to the four nuns. The militants then “tied them up, shot them in the head and smashed their heads” as others in the home screamed for the militants to show the nuns mercy, according to Crux.
The slain nuns were identified as Sister Anselm from India, Sister Judith from Kenya and Sisters Marguerite and Reginette from Rwanda.
The surviving sister escaped the attackers by hiding behind a door in a walk-in refrigerator.
During the attack, Uzhunnalil rushed to the chapel tabernacle in an attempt to consume all the sanctified hosts used in Communion, apparently to keep them from being desecrated, before he was abducted. The militants then set about destroying all the Christian symbols and liturgical articles in the tabernacle. The entire attack and kidnapping lasted 90 minutes, according to the nun.
Since the kidnapping, essentially no information about the safety or whereabouts of Uzhunnalil has been available. Weeks after the kidnapping, Archbishop of Vienna Christoph Cardinal Schonborn claimed publically that Uzhunnalil had been crucified on Good Friday. Photographs, allegedly of Uzhunnalil’s corpse, were circulated as evidence of his death, but research by Morning Star News showed the photos were actually from the funeral of another priest in the region who had just died.
According to indigenous missions support group Christian Aid Mission, .2 percent of Yemen’s 27.4 million people are Christians. Yemen consistently places high in studies ranking countries for their mistreatment of Christians. Plagued by low-intensity conflicts for years, the country plunged into a full-scale civil war in March 2015 along Shia and Sunni lines. Several terrorist groups, including IS and Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, have taken advantage of the power vacuum that exists in the country and have set up bases of operation.
Warning: graphic images
ADEN, YEMEN (ANS – March 18, 2016) — A lone surviving nun is telling the world her personal account of a recent Yemen massacre she witnessed in a chilling handwritten letter.
According to CBN News, a peaceful morning on March 4, 2016, at a Catholic nursing home in Aden, Yemen, suddenly turned into 90 minutes of horror as men, believed to be Islamic State (ISIS) jihadists, raided the facility with the intent of murdering every nun and volunteer there.
According to reports, the nuns were first handcuffed and then shot at point blank range.
Sister Sally is the only eye witness to the event. She recounted her story in a conversation with another nun, Sister Rio, who then wrote down her account in a memorandum.
According to India-born Sister Sally, the assailants stormed the facility on the morning of March 4 after the nuns and volunteer aids had their usual breakfast and prayer time.
Armed terrorists dressed in blue stormed the compound at 8:30 a.m.
“Ethiopian men (Christian) began running to tell the sisters ISIS was there to kill them. They were killed one by one,” Sister Sally recalled.
Another 12 others at an elderly facility were also brutally slaughtered.
CBN News then went on to say that the terrorists proceeded to gun down every nun and volunteer they could find until Sister Sally was the only one left. She then tried running to warn the nearby convent before she was forced to hide behind the door of “the refrigerator room.”
“The [Islamic State] ISIS men were everywhere, searching for her and even entered the refrigerator room at least three times without finding her,” Sister Sally witnessed.
Sister Rio comments in the memorandum that Sister Sally’s survival is nothing short of “miraculous.”
“The terrorists murdered every other nun and any volunteer aids they could find. After the rampage the Islamic extremists destroyed all religious articles and Christian symbols at the facility,” CBN went on to say.
“The martyred nuns were Sister Judith from Kenya, Sister Anselm from India, and Sister Marguerite and Sister Reginette from Rwanda. They were all associated with Members of the Missionaries of Charity, an order founded by Mother Teresa.
“Indian priest Rev. Tom Uzhunnalil was also kidnapped by the terrorists and is yet to be found.”
The murdered sisters had left their homes in India and Africa to serve the poor, elderly, and disabled in the war-torn country of Yemen. They worked together with volunteers at the convent’s home care center, where they served around sixty to eighty patients of all religions.
“They were serving all poor people irrespective of their religion. Their duty was to help the poor,” a representative from the Apostolic Vicariate of Southern Arabia told the Catholic News Agency (CAN).
Sister Sally and her community are still grieving the victims’ deaths but say they have “fully surrendered” to the will of God.
In the memorandum, Sister Sally urges Christians “to pray that their blood will be the seeds for peace in the Middle East and to stop ISIS.”
According to PressTV (http://www.presstv.ir), no individual or group has so far claimed responsibility for the carnage, but sources close to Yemen’s fugitive former President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi blamed it on the Islamic State [Dae’sh] (IS) terrorists.
Yemen has been under Saudi airstrikes on a daily basis since the regime in Riyadh launched its military aggression against the impoverished country in late March 2015, in a bid to undermine the Houthi Ansarullah movement and restore power to Hadi, a staunch ally of Riyadh.
Exploiting the chaos in Yemen, Islamic State (Dae’sh), which is mainly operating in Syria and Iraq, has been able to infiltrate the country.
The Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has also taken advantage of the volatile conditions and the breakdown of security in Yemen since the beginning of the Saudi war to tighten its grip on parts of southeastern Yemen.
By Dan Wooding, Founder of the ASSIST News Service
Please faithfully remember Sister Sally’s prayer request.
Together with your generous help, we can reach the goal to alleviate the horrific suffering of our brothers and sisters in Christ. In darkness and desperation, let us serve in love, with open arms and giving hands to provide light and hope.
Every day, we thank God that He is working through you to care for His children and to further His Kingdom! As you greatly bless others, may God continue to bless you. Thank you so much for your support. We couldn’t do it without you!
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In a heartbreaking report from Fides, the Mother Teresa Sisters killed in Aden were described as being loved by the locals and admired for their love of serving those most in need, regardless of their faith. Bishop Paul Hinder OFMCap, Vicar Apostolic for Southern Arabia, told Fides, suggests this could be the root of the hatred, “diabolic hatred”. The affection the locals had for the Sisters could be the precise reason behind the massacre last Friday in the port city of Yemen. Four Catholic Sisters serving at Missionaries of Charity, which was founded by Mother Teresa of Calcutta, were slaughtered together with 12 other helpers and the elderly and disabled people whom they assisted at the Mother Theresa Home. Photos show that the Sisters were wearing kitchen aprons at the moment of the killing over their religious habit.
Bishop Hinder confirms that nothing is known of the whereabouts of Salesian Father Tom Uzhunnalil, who was at the residence when the terrorists attacked. The Bishop said, “We imagine he is still being held by the assailants, Yemen bureaucracy keeps searching for him but so far with no result.” The only survivor, Missionaries of Charity local Mother Superior, Sister Sally who is also an Indian from Kerala is preparing to depart.
A year ago when country war broke out between government troops and Huthi rebels, Bishop Hinder remembers discussing with the Sisters the risks of remaining in such a dangerous scenario.
“They told me there was nothing to discuss: they would not leave whatever happened, because they wanted to stay with the people entrusted to their care. It was clear that on the part of the Sisters this was no exhibition of heroism, it was purely their desire to follow Jesus Christ. I respected the Sisters’ decision, and am convinced that their martyrdom will bear fruit also for the lives of other Christians living in the Arabian peninsula”.
BEIRUT: In a Middle East torn apart by war and conflict fighters are increasingly using food as a weapon of war.
Millions of people across countries like Syria, Yemen and Iraq are gripped by hunger, struggling to survive with little help from the outside world.
Children suffer from severe malnutrition, their parents often having to beg or sell possessions to get basic commodities including water, medicine and fuel.
The biggest humanitarian catastrophe by far is Syria, where a ruinous five year civil war has killed a quarter of a million people and displaced half the population.
All sides in the conflict have used punishing blockades to force submission and surrender from the other side, a tactic that has proved effective particularly for government forces seeking to pacify opposition-held areas around the capital Damascus.
Since October,…Read more
Please pray for those in a magnitude of suffering, pray for help. Pray for an end to the conflicts, pray for the presence of the Lord and pray for the lost to be found.
In an Arabic language tweet that has been picked up by various websites offering few other details, Mareb al-Ward writes: “Houthi militias stormed the St. Anthony Church in al-Tawahi, Aden, in Yemen. They plundered the Catholic church of all its contents.”
At this time, no other Arabic or news sources are mentioning this incident.
The Houthis are a Shia-affiliated rebel group operating in Yemen.
They are also known as “Ansar Allah,” or the “Supporters of Allah.”
My heart is breaking. We have spent countless hours on video conference calls, and phone conversations with our brethren in Nigeria and Pakistan. Two countries, our Lord has laid on our hearts to intervene and bring hope. We have listened to heartbreaking story after story of the desperation, the untold death and suffering. We comfort those who have fled, forced to leave loved ones behind. The sorrow and helplessness in their voices digs at our very soul. But we do this with great love and joy as our Lord commanded us, but at times we shed uncontrollable tears. And today is one of those times.
As I look at videos and pictures of the achievements and growth of a family that we are aiding, I hear sadness in the father’s voice. He is alone, without his family, not by choice but a situation forced on him through extreme persecution.
A short while later I reviewed videos of another sort—the death and destruction carried out by evil men and my soul cries out like theirs does. One on the frontlines was literally broken for a time. The sights of brutal slayings, wails of brokenhearted and lives forever turned upside down, proving too much for his mind and soul to process—literally unable to speak of it. He even began questioning his own faith. After much prayer and comfort from God, he is healing with a renewed spirit and sense of commitment.
We could share all the details that would break your heart in two, but for fear for our brothers and sisters safety, the risk is too great. But know this, their suffering is real, their tears are real, what they are witnessing is real. Traumatized until they reach the Kingdom of Heaven and all sorrow is wiped from their eyes.
The shock and pain the children are enduring is impossible for us to recognize in the West. Our precious brethren in Nigeria and Pakistan wonder, “Do our brethren in the West even know, do they care?” They wonder what would it be like to live in a country where you can walk the streets without fear. Never needing to look over your shoulder, or fearing what awaits around the next corner. To live in a nation not bombarded by targeted attacks month after month, week after week. No need to flee their home to find safe places, as they pass the dead careful to avoid bodies strewn along the path. Why can’t it be this way in their own country, their generational homeland, they don’t want to leave. “We just want to live in Peace.”
I want to share their story, but must do so with discernment.
Recently, we learned of 2 men who were captured by the Boko Haram. They were given the options, convert or die. In fear, one converted, but they killed him anyway stating, “We will send you to Allah without sin.” The other refused to denounce Christ. As they butchered him, he began preaching the Gospel. He begged them not to kill him, not because he was afraid, but because in his words, “You will be judged for this, please don’t do it.” He had that much forgiveness and love for his attackers.
One dear soul tells of a vision that keeps him going, a vision from God of the Kingdom of Heaven. Those of you that share the gifts of prayer and hope, letters, and donations mean so much to those persecuted. One day soon they will be able to tell their stories. But as for now I can only ask that God would allow me to take their pain from them, if only for a moment to allow them comfort.
What if each one of us did this every day, or even once a week? Asking God to give us for a time, the pain of one who suffers allowing them to heal and feel peace. Could you handle it? Could you handle the shock, the pain, the sorrow, the helplessness and hopelessness that they feel every day even for a moment? What if we took 5 minutes even 10, every day to pray and intercede ( o in this manner? I believe the healing that would go forth would amaze.
We don’t normally share video’s that portray horrific images, but I turned to this video by accident which normally I will shut off rather than watch. I already hear firsthand these stories vividly in the lives of our brethren, but this time it was as if God said No, you will watch and then share it. Right now, if God is speaking to your heart to intercede for them—watch this video from Nigeria. It’s 2 years old and at present it is much more volatile. Please use discretion, the video is very graphic and not for the faint of heart. Afterwards, spend time with God asking “What can I do?” Let us know how God is using or moving you for care for these dear ones.
C. Refsland, VOP Advocate/News Analyst
WARNING! VERY GRAPHIC VIDEO BY CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIAN AMERICANS
Fox News and others are reporting that President Assad visited Maaloula on Sunday. This is a village that was attacked and many were slaughtered by rebels. We found it utterly amazing that it is reported that taking back this village from the Al-Queda affiliated rebels was a prize to the government. Assad said that he wants to protect Christians, and other religious minorities. We know Christians were afforded a certain amount of freedom and movement that they don’t have now. In one rebel held area, Christians have to pay a tax to the rebels, convert or die. Many media reports from the MSM about Syria are not accurate. We’ve all seen an realize that. Here’s an excerpt from Fox News:
President Bashar Assad on Sunday toured a historic Christian village his forces recently captured from rebels, state media said, as the country’s Greek Orthodox Patriarch vowed that Christians in the war-ravaged country “will not submit and yield” to extremists. Syrian state TV and the country’s official SANA news agency said Assad was in Maaloula, inspecting the damage done in recent fighting to its monasteries and churches.
What do the people of Syria say? Some say the media reports about Syria are wrong. Some say that Assad is actually correct in saying this is not a civil war, it’s terrorists. Some say that the Army and the rebels are both playing games. Others say that both sides are committing atrocities. When talking to those who have fled Syria, you get a different picture all together. While they tell us that Christians had better conditions under Assad, they also say the Government is to blame for the slaughter of Christians, by intentionally moving out of villages and allowing the rebels to take over. Thus causing the slaughter of Christians.
The Christians in these villages held by rebels have come to rely on the government there for protection. When they leave and allow rebel takeovers, many are killed. It raises the question, “Is this an intentional cleansing of Christians?” Syria is not the only place this is happening. It’s happening in Nigeria, the CAR, Sudan, Yemen, Libya and other countries. It is becoming so bad that some call it the next genocide. Yet the Western leaders are either complicit or blinded. The people of the west hardly raise an eyebrow. No one is listening. No one is listening to the heartbreak, the anguish the sorrow of those affected by this. The survivors, the ones that have fled to safety live every day with the nightmares caused by the evil that is growing there. It is hard to express in words the evil that is there. There is no regard for human life, no regard for anything except heinous slaughter. It is pure unadulterated evil. Evil that can only come from the bowels of Hell.
That’s not too harsh. Look at the images coming from these areas, the reports from those on the ground. The suffering and anguish carried by the survivors. The faith that those who witness and experience this puts all in the West to shame. Recently, a Christian facing extreme persecution told us that their faith grows stronger with the persecution.
Look at the recent statement made by Pastor Abidini for Easter. He lays in a hospital bed in Iran knowing he is going back to prison there, and he’s praying for Christians everywhere—not for himself, but for his brothers and sisters facing persecution. That kind of faith is monumental. But do western Christians have that kind of Faith? Would we have that Faith if we faced what they are facing? Would you, could you? They are an inspiration for our own faith.
As I talk to people and I look around, and listen to the news about the bombings in Abuja, the kidnapping of the schoolgirls in Nigeria, the slaughter in the CAR and Syria, the horrific images of death, starvation, torture, and rape ring in my mind. Then I ask why, why does the west remain silent. It’s not too hard to see what concerns them. Look at the television programs and what’s popular, Naked & Afraid, The Kardashians, the Shopping channels, & other reality shows. Naked and Afraid is lived every day by those in these area’s. Starvation, hardships, fear of death, is reality for them. If you want to watch a reality show, watch the news about Syria, Libya, Nigeria, Yemen, Sudan and others. That is Reality!