A 29-year-old Iraqi Christian was kidnapped and brutally murdered after his family failed to pay the $100,000 ransom demanded by his abductors.
Ashur Yacob Issa's decapitated body
was found dumpedPhoto: ankawa.com used with permission
The decapitated body of Ashur Yacob Issa, a construction worker, was found dumped in Kirkuk, northern , last Monday morning (16 May). The husband and father had been captured late Friday night (13 May) and had clearly been subjected to extensive torture by his attackers.
The kidnappers contacted Ashur's family the day after his disappearance, demanding a $100,000 ransom for his release. But the family could not pay the hefty sum.
A senior Iraqi church leader, who suspected that radical Islamists were behind the crime, said:
The murder was meant to intimidate Christians so that in the future they will more readily pay ransom demands.
He said that since the 2003 US-led invasion of , up to 573 Christians have been killed in religiously and politically motivated attacks, and that 66 churches have been attacked or bombed as well as three Christian centres and a church-run orphanage.
Christians have increasingly been the target of threats, bombings, killing, kidnapping and rape since the first Gulf War in 1990-1, when they inadvertently became associated with the Western adversaries.
The murder of Ashur Yacob Issa came as a spate of deadly bombings rocked last week. A series of seven explosions ripped through Baghdad, killing at least 21 people and injuring more than 80, early Sunday morning (22 May). This followed two co-ordinated blasts in Kirkuk on Thursday (19 May) that claimed 27 lives and left around 85 wounded; four Iraqi soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb south of Mosul on the same day.
Most of the explosions were directed at Iraqi police officers, security personnel and government officials. Al-Qaeda has been blamed for some of the attacks.
As the US prepares to withdraw all its remaining troops from by the end of this year, it is feared that the country will descend further into a state of lawlessness, making attacks on Christians more likely. Anti-Christian persecution has worsened since the withdrawal of large numbers of Western forces in 2009.
*From Barnabus Fund, the British Christian watchdog groups which tries to help persecuted Christians around the world.