Terror in Mosul: Christians Flee Attacks

thumb_1225209980604_0p72281158443915741.jpgBy George Thomas
CBN News

Watch Low Band CBNNews.com – MOSUL, Iraq – These are dangerous times for Christians in Iraq. The northern city of Mosul has witnessed a wave of Muslim violence against Christians.

Now threats of more attacks have thousands of people fleeing from their homes.

Click play to hear Pat Robertson’s comments following George Thomas’ report on The 700 Club.

Horrific Memories

It was a night that changed Sabha Basheer’s life for ever.

“Four men burst into the room, their faces were covered,” she said. “They started pointing their guns at us screaming telling us to get out of bed! They tied my husband’s hands, blindfolded him and threw him in the back of the car.”

Within hours, the call came in from the Sunni insurgents who had kidnapped her husband.

Thomas: How much did they ask for your husband?

Sabha: $50,000. I did not have this kind of money to pay.”

Ten days later, his body was dumped on the side of a road in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.

“All the bones in his body were broken,” she recalled. “He was hacked repeatedly and choked to death.”

His crime: being a member of Iraq’s tiny Christian community. Her husband was killed four years ago.

Today she faces another unimaginable crisis.

On October 4, radical Muslims in Mosul started killing Christians and intimidating others. Sabha, along with thousands of Christians fled their homes after radical Muslims threatened to kill them if they didn’t convert to Islam.

“The situation had gotten so bad in Mosul that most of the Christian families were paying money to al-Qaeda in exchange for protection. But that money got us nowhere,” Sabha said.

City of Refuge

Today, she and dozens of Christian families have sought refugee in a cultural center outside Mosul. Ibraham Shaba Ibrahim is the center’s director.

“We used to have parties and different meetings in this hall,” Ibrahim said. “But now we’ve converted it into a place for these refugees.”

Before the U.S.-led invasion, there were about a million Christians in Iraq. They lived in relative security, free to worship and build churches. But after the invasion, Muslim radicals started targeting them.

Christian activist George Mavah said, “There are people and groups behind the scenes that we cannot see who want to drive the Christians out of Iraq. This is nothing short of an ethnic cleansing of a specific group of people.”

Dr. Hussein Sinjari, a human rights activist, blames al-Qaeda and other Sunni insurgent groups for the violence against Christians.

“This is the fundamentalist Islam, the fascist Islam, this is the Islam al-Qaeda and they don’t like the ‘other,'” human rights activist Dr. Hussein Siniari explained.

Church leaders here estimate that most of Iraq’s Christians have now fled or been killed. And about 13,000 have left Mosul. They’re part of the more than 4 million Iraqis the United Nations says have fled their homes since the war began.

Safer Under Saddam Hussein?

“We are glad that Saddam is gone, but I must tell you that at least we felt safe back then. No one ever dared to attack us. Now we are being killed,” Sabha said.

Today, in the towns of the Nineveh Plain, a few miles northeast of Mosul, Christians have taken refugee in schools, churches and monasteries.

Some 250 Christian families have fled the violence in Mosul and have moved to the Nineveh Plains to a village called Bartella. But there is still a tremendous amount of fear in this community because there is concern that al-Qaeda as well as various insurgents could slip into this community.

Mosul is one the most dangerous cities today in Iraq.

In addition to al-Qaeda, U.S. commanders say at least 12 insurgent groups operate in the city. But as U.S and Iraqi forces launch new security operations, the concern is that some of these insurgents will move into the areas where Christians have taken refuge.

Meanwhile, security around Mosul has improved somewhat. The government is pledging financial support and protection for every Christian family that returns to Mosul. But so far, just a handful have returned.