Priest reveals Muslim, grateful for Church-provided aid, helped him escape ISIS
"I was very conscious of the prayers of so many people--including the prayers of St Ignatius of Loyola and Charles de Foucauld," he said, revealing that is prayer was: "Father, I abandon myself into your hands; do with me what you will."
By John Pontifex
NEW YORK—Father Jacques Mourad, kidnapped by
ISIS last May, managed to escape the terrorists with help of a Muslim friend,
who acted out of gratitude for the humanitarian aid the priest had provided him
and his family.
The monk told international Catholic charity Aid to the
Church in Need (ACN) that he had been able to provide such aid thanks to ACN and
other relief organizations. Speaking out after nearly six months of captivity, Fatjer Mourad said that with
the help of the friend he escaped the ISIS-held city, Qaratayn on the back of a
motorbike—disguised as an Islamist fighter.
The friend—who has links to
ISIS—told the priest that he had been impressed by the priest’s humanitarian
relief work in Qaratayn, which included the provision of food, shelter and
medicine to both Muslims and Christians affected and displaced by the Syrian civil
Father Mourad said: “What
ACN has done to help us has played a great role in setting me free.”
Father Mourad, whose
outreach to Muslims led him to be known as ‘Sheikh Jacques,’ said that when
Qaratayn’s water supplies were cut off he helped build a reservoir with the
help of ACN. He said he was convinced that this help had caused ISIS to show
leniency toward 150 Christians held hostage in Qaratayn.
was prior of the Monastery of Mar Elian in the Syrian town of Al Qaryatayn, about
60 miles southeast of Homs—described how pressure
from Muslims in Qaratayn had prompted his return to the city, where he was put under
house arrest following 84 days in a prison at ISIS headquarters in Raqqa, in northern
He said: “One day, one of the ISIS leaders came to me and said:
‘Everybody in Qaratayn has been talking about you, asking for you.’ So he told
me to come with him. I was led away—still blindfolded and with hands tied—and I
was taken into what seemed like a huge tunnel.
“They removed my blindfold and I could see my parishioners, gathered in the shelter that ACN had built. It
Recalling his time in prison, Father Mourad said that every
day in prison the Islamists threatened
to kill him. He added: “I was waiting for the moment when they would come and
slit my throat.” The priest said he was convinced his efforts to remain calm
and at peace helped save his life.
“I was very conscious of the prayers of so many people—including
the prayers of St Ignatius of Loyola and Charles de Foucauld,” he said,
revealing that is prayer was: “Father, I abandon myself into your hands; do
with me what you will.”
Father Mourad after his release; ACN photo