ISIS begins purge of Iraqi Christians

posted at 11:31 am on July 19, 2014 by Noah Rothman

Fighters with the ISIS/ISIL won a major victory over Iraqi security forces this week when they retook Saddam Hussein’s hometown, Tikrit, on June 11 after more than two weeks of fighting. ISIS rebels have since repulsed several attempts by Iraqi troops to retake the city located just 140 kilometers from Baghdad.

Consolidating their gains, ISIS militants overran Iraqi soldiers protecting a former U.S. military base on Friday, killing and capturing hundreds of Iraq fighters who had been orchestrating efforts to retake Tikrit.

“Beginning late Thursday, the Islamist forces stormed Camp Speicher, a former U.S. military base named for a pilot who disappeared during the 1991 Persian Gulf War, and overwhelmed the troops there,” a McClatchy dispatch from Iraq read.

Interviews with Tikrit residents and statements on Twitter accounts associated with the Islamic State described massive government losses. One Twitter post said Islamic State militants had shot down or destroyed on the ground as many as eight helicopters, a number that if confirmed would be a catastrophic loss for the government. Another Twitter posting said Islamic State militants had set the base’s fuel storage tanks on fire and that a suicide bomber had attacked a “gathering” of government soldiers.

One resident said that as many as 700 government soldiers and 150 fighters he described as Iranians, but who may have been Shiite Muslim militiamen, had participated in the final battle. Sunni Muslims in central Iraq often inaccurately describe Iraqi Shiites as Iranians.

This major defeat for pro-Western forces in Iraq may not be the most grim news coming out of the country in recent days.

In the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, where ISIS fighters have been in control for weeks, members of a local Christian community have been told they have until Sunday to either consent to pay a tax in order to remain there, convert to Islam, or be killed.

Thousands of Christian residents of the city are reportedly fleeing the area ahead of the deadline.

Witnesses said messages telling Christians to leave the city by Saturday were blared through loudspeakers from the city’s mosques Friday.

A statement dated from last week and purportedly issued by ISIS that took over the city and large swathes of Iraq during a sweeping offensive last month warned Mosul’s Christians they should convert, pay a special tax, leave or face death.

“We were shocked by the distribution of a statement by the Islamic State calling on Christians to convert to Islam, or to pay unspecified tribute, or to leave their city and their homes taking only their clothes and no luggage, and that their homes would then belong to the Islamic State,” Sako said.

On Friday, the U.S. State Department expressed “outrage” over this development:

Mosul has a rich Christian tradition and is home to the several tombs of figures from the Old Testament, including Jonah. According to a statement released by ISIS and obtained by AFP, for those Christians who do not abandon that tradition his weekend, “there will be nothing for them but the sword.”


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Over . . . . .

listens2glenn on July 22, 2014 at 8:23 AM

I like to pray to Mary during football season to intercede on behalf of Notre Dame. But she seems to be dropping the ball in recent times. I’m starting to suspect that she’s a soccer mom. Or worse, an SEC fan. I’m going to give her one more season to shape up.

justltl on July 22, 2014 at 6:53 AM

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That kind of ‘humor’ won’t get you ex-communicared, will it ?
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I mean, I laughed at it … but still . . . . .

listens2glenn on July 22, 2014 at 8:26 AM

I suddenly find myself busy, and unable to respond in a timely fashion, which really “vacuums,” because I do enjoy these arg– … I mean discussions !
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It is not either/or when praying to God. We don’t pray to saints instead of praying directly to God.

Elisa on July 21, 2014 at 1:37 PM

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We’re in agreement, there.
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As has been explained, we ask others to pray for us here on earth AND IN HEAVEN because there is power in joint prayer and in many praying to God.

Elisa on July 21, 2014 at 1:37 PM

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Screeeeeeeeeeeeeeech ! ! ! … (darn near lost control of the car)

Well … except for those three words in “cap-lock”, we agree there.

Those who are with the LORD in Heaven are not praying for any of us here on the earth.
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Especially a person close to Christ. We don’t ask someone here on earth to pray for us unless we think they have a relationship with God.

Elisa on July 21, 2014 at 1:37 PM

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Anyone on this earth, who is “born again”, has “a relationship with God”, and can productively pray for someone.

listens2glenn on July 22, 2014 at 8:33 AM

I see the parable as a warning against a theocracy and actions like the crusades.

Jesus explains that the good seeds are Christians and the bad seeds are unbelievers. We cannot know what is in one’s heart. We do not know if listens2glenn is truly saved or sauerkraut is not.

davidk on July 21, 2014 at 9:16 AM

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. . . . . ( Headquarters ? … I think they’re onto me . . . . . )
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Whether we agree with Jesus or not as to the benefit or loss of banning sauerkraut while allowing l2g to remain, He has told us such purging is not good and in the process we may pull up or in some other way damage true believers.

davidk on July 21, 2014 at 9:16 AM

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? ! ? ! . . . . . . . . . . . . . I didn’t know sauerkraut’ got banned . . . . . when did that happen ?
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True Christians may be uprooted because on the surface they may not appear to be saved. Or an unsaved charismatic figure attains to a position of leadership (I’ve seen it happen) and purges whom he will.

davidk on July 21, 2014 at 9:16 AM

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“An unsaved charismatic figure attains to a position of leadership, and purges whom he (she? ) will” ?

I’ve never heard of that … a few times . . . . . ok, more than a few times.

The Church has allowed pop-culture to have undue influence in their decisions regarding placing certain persons in various positions of leadership. We’ve been reaping the inevitable outcomes of such (expletive) for way too long.
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I also am reminded of Paul’s admonishment concerning weak Christians. For someone new or not strong in the faith purging people may in someone hinder their spiritual growth or cause them to give up altogether and abandon the faith.

davidk on July 21, 2014 at 9:16 AM

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Yep … : (
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I believe “purging” can be done … by PRAYER.
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For some reason, the “main-stream” Protestant denominations have gotten away from teaching and practicing a genuine prayer life.

It might have something to do with “unsaved charismatic figures in a positions of leadership,” but I’m not sure.

listens2glenn on July 22, 2014 at 8:37 AM

That kind of ‘humor’ won’t get you ex-communicared, will it ?

listens2glenn on July 22, 2014 at 8:26 AM

Nah, I’m covered. I also pray to St. Jude, who specializes in hopeless cases. Just in case.

justltl on July 22, 2014 at 9:03 AM

That kind of ‘humor’ won’t get you ex-communicared, will it ?

listens2glenn on July 22, 2014 at 8:26 AM

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Nah, I’m covered. I also pray to St. Jude, who specializes in hopeless cases. Just in case.

justltl on July 22, 2014 at 9:03 AM

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St Jude can get you outta’ this ? … Ok, if you say so.

listens2glenn on July 22, 2014 at 1:20 PM

listens2glenn on July 22, 2014 at 8:37 AM

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Cross-posted (accidentally) from the Sunday reflection thread.
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listens2glenn on July 22, 2014 at 1:25 PM

The time to do something powerful and informative is rapidly slipping out of our hands. Why is there such deafening silence? I am both amazed and saddened at this lack of outrage from our administration. Why? Why? Why?

tjmorrill on July 22, 2014 at 5:10 PM

tjmorrill on July 22, 2014 at 5:10 PM

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Because things are going exactly as the White House wants ?

listens2glenn on July 22, 2014 at 8:23 PM

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