Christians are becoming a commodity in the Middle East war waged by the Islamic extremist terrorist group ISIS to raise funds for their reign of terror across the region and throughout the world.
This was the assessment by John Newton, spokesperson for the Catholic relief agency Aid to the Church in Need who said that a Catholic priest kidnapped by the ISIS has been chopped to pieces even after the family paid the ransom demanded by the terror group.
Newton told The Christian Post, "Christians have become a form [of] currency in this tragedy. I know of one priest who was kidnapped for two months ... they asked for a ransom of $120,000, which the family managed to raise and deliver. ... But hours later, the priest was killed and his body cut up, with pieces of him sent in a box to the family."
He said that the priest was just among the hundreds of Catholics, including Arab-Christians kidnapped by the extremist Islamic group to raise funds for their terrorist activities. However, Newton said Isis Christians are still tortured and beheaded even after families have paid huge amounts for their release.
The Aid to the Church in Need also cited the case of Archbishops of Syriac-Orthodox and Greek-Orthodox Metropolitans of Aleppo - Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim and Boulos Yazigi who were abducted by the ISIS in April 2013 on the road between Aleppo and the Turkish border, while trying to negotiate for the release of two kidnapped priest Michael Kayyal and Maher Mahfouz. The two priests were abducted by the ISIS in February 2013.
"No one knows who took the archbishops, nor what their fate was, but the two priests they were trying to free have since been executed," explained Newton.
A report by IBTimes said that around 250 Christians from the Syrian town of Qaryatain, including women and children, were kidnapped by the Isis early this week. The Syrian Orthodox Archdiocese of Homs is negotiating with the group for the release of the kidnapped Christians, the report said.
It added that the ISIS terrorists have a list of names they are targeting. Christians who took refuge in the local monastery were also taken by the ISIS.
In March, some 217 Assyrian Christians have been taken by the ISIS militants from the Al Hasakah province in northern Syria and demanded for a ransom of $1 million per person for their release.
The spate of kidnapping is taking a toll on the traumatized Christian community in Syria and places controlled or under threat from the ISIS militants as they always fear for their lives, ready to evacuate at any notice.
Catholic Priest Father Douglas Bazi told the BBC documentary titled Kill the Christians, that he opened up his church grounds in 2015 to welcome refugees fleeing the conflict areas. He also set up the Mar Elias Centre in Northern Iraq's Ankawa, which is now caring for around 135 Christian families.
"We are Christian, so we are used to having our luggage always prepared. We always have to run away, escape from place to place," he told the BBC.
Father Bazi was himself kidnapped and tortured by the ISIS in 2006 and was released four days after paying ransom. Bazi shared that during his captivity, his Islamist captors struck his back, broke one of his legs, shot him, punched his teeth out and deprived him of water.
The extremist has declared war against Christianity and vowed to rid the Arab World of any Christians. U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron described Christianity as the "most prosecuted religion around the world" and added that his country would "unashamed" to stand up to protect religious freedom, reported The Telegraph.