Assyrian Christian Children Forced To Witness ISIS Beheadings: ‘They Were Always Scared’

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By Leah Marieann Klett (
Syrian Refugees
A Syrian refugee comforts her child. (Photo : UNHCR)
Assyrian Christian children captured by ISIS were forced to witness numerous beheadings carried out by the extremist group, a disturbing new report has revealed.

The Assyrian International News Agency reports that Assyrian Christians who fled to Beirut, Lebanon have revealed the atrocities they were forced to observe while in ISIS captivity.

“Our children saw many beheadings,” said Jack Zayya, an Assyrian Christian refugee. “We were obligated to watch public executions. What kind of world is that for kids to grow up in? They were always scared.”

Zayya said he had a “good livelihood” in Syria before that ISIS invaded and overtook his hometown of Al-Hasakah in Syria earlier this year. The group, intent on establishing a caliphate in the Middle East, reportedly kidnapped many Christians and gave others an ultimatum, ordering them to pay taxes to the jihadists or be killed.

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“Kidnappings were about getting ransom from rich families or individuals at first,” he continued. “With Daesh [ISIS], though, there is no negotiating. We had to pay the jizya tax or die.”

In February, the group kidnapped over 220 Assyrian Christians after storming 35 different village in the Hasakah province, demanding $23 million for their release.

According to A Demand for Action, the Assyrian rights campaigning groups, Bishop Mar Mellis spoke to SBS Radio in Australia about the negotiations between the Assyrian Church of the East and the Islamists.

“We tried many times to negotiate with the people that captured them and for their release,” he said.

“We offered them an amount of money in accordance with the law of jizya [religious tax] but sadly after a week the negotiator between us returned and told us that ISIS wanted $100,000 for each person. They were asking for over $23 million.”

He continued, “We are a poor nation. These people have not done anything wrong and won’t harm anyone. We as Assyrians do not have this amount of money you are asking for.”

Bishop Mellis added, “We then thought we would wait, hoping they would come back to talk. Sadly, we received word that the 230 kidnapped people will be sent to the Court of Sharia in Raqqa, where a Muslim judge from Mosul will deliver their fate.”

Al Arabiya news notes that Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey are currently hosting over 2.7 million Syrian refugees fleeing both ISIS and the ongoing civil war in their country.

In April, Angelina Jolie, an active humanitarian and special envoy for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, participated in a U.N. Security Council to urge the international community for greater support and humanitarian access for the refugee crisis.

“We cannot look at Syria and the evil that has arisen from the ashes of indecision and think this is not the lowest point in the world’s inability to protect and defend the innocent,” Jolie said, also adding that she has witnessed the crisis herself more than 10 times during her visits to the region.

People Magazine reports that the Unbroken director also joined Executive Director of the World Food Program Ertharin Cousin and United States U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power at the briefing, who together called upon the world to take action to pull refugees out of “limbo.”
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