The very last message heard from the captives of the most recent kidnapping in Syria by ISIS was an SMS sent from a wife to her husband early this morning, according to Osama Edward, director of the Assyrian Human Rights Network. The message detailed how ISIS militants were asking the captives about their affiliations, if any, with Syrian militias.
Dozens of Syrian Christians were kidnapped Tuesday by ISIS militants, after fighters overran a number of villages in the northeastern part of the country, Reuters reported.
The ISIS militants attacked between 3 and 4 a.m., according Edward. Most of the 70-100 Christians captured were women, children and the elderly.
Ten villages were overrun, and captives were initially held in a school for a couple of hours. But once militants began to feel threatened, they moved the Christians to an ISIS-held village seven miles away, according to Edward, who spoke to The Daily Caller News Foundation from Stockholm, Sweden.
“The main target about having those civilians is to have a shelter to protect themselves, so no one will attack them,” said Edward, referring to human shields against potential attacks by the U.S.-led coalition or Kurdish forces.
There have been no ransom demands so far, and Edwards fears these Christians could be facing the same fate as the 21 Egyptian Christians who were beheaded by ISIS fighters in Libya.
According to Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, the kidnapping was motivated by ISIS’ desperate need for money.
“I think the root of it is that they are getting hit hard, they need money desperately … and they’ve got the guns,” Landis said. “The shakedown of Christians in Mosul was very much about money.”
The Islamic extremist group overtook Mosul, Iraqi’s second-largest city, in June of last year.
Christian women can’t be enslaved because they are people of the book, mentioned Landis. This contrasts ISIS’ enslavement of Yazidi women, permitted because Yazidis are considered pagans. “Their religion has not descended from God,” Landis said.
The Wall Street Journal mentioned local sources, who gave ISIS’ own estimate of those captured:
Residents from Tal Shamiram, where 56 civilians are reported to have been taken hostage, told the observatory that they heard ISIS militants speaking over walkie-talkies saying they had detained “56 crusaders.”
As reported by the Associated Press, several thousand Christians escaped:
During the raids, the militants took between 70 and 100 Assyrians captive, said Nuri Kino, the head of the activist group A Demand For Action, which focuses on religious minorities in the Middle East. He said some 3,000 people managed to flee the onslaught and have sought refuge in the cities of Hassakeh and Qamishli.
The kidnapping is the latest known strike against the Christian community in the Middle East by ISIS.
“This is part of ISIS larger effort to subjugate these minority peoples of region and to assert what they claim is strict Islamic law,” Landis told TheDCNF.
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