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The Evolving Story of the Death of Father Murad

By Richard Edmondson | War and Peace | July 3, 2013

Conflicting news reports have been coming out on the death of Father Francois Murad. Initially it was reported by a number of sources, including a press release from the Vatican, that the priest had been beheaded. Today, however, reports are saying that no, this was incorrect, that he was only shot dead, and that the video purporting to show his beheading was an old video. Here is how The Telegraph is reporting the matter:

The footage, said to show Father Francois Murad, 49, as the victim in a brutal summary execution by foreign jihadists is likely to be an older video that bares no relation to the death of the Catholic priest.

Father Murad “died when he was shot inside his church” in the northern Syrian Christian village of Ghassaniyeh on June 23, three separate local sources, who did not wish to be named, told the Telegraph.

Claims that Father Murad was one of two men to be decapitated by a foreign jihadist group went viral, with outrage expressed in blogs and articles worldwide.

The story goes on to describe the contents of the video, noting that it is “too grainy to be able to confirm the identity of either of the victims as Father Francois,” while offering quotes of clarification from Human Rights Watch as well as Holy Land Custos Pierbattista Pizzabala. The latter is quoted as saying, “Islamists attacked the monastery, ransacking it and destroying everything. When Father Francois tried to resist, defending the nuns, rebels shot him.”

According to the HRW spokesperson, the video “looks like it may have been filmed” several months ago, well before Murad’s death, and that the confusion may have arisen due to its appearance “around the same time that the news came out that Father Francois had been killed.”

All of this quite naturally raises some questions. Descriptions of the video, found at both LiveLeak and YouTube, specifically said the two men shown being beheaded were Christians and that Murad was one of them. Who made this video available to the public and what was their motive?

The conflict in Syria is becoming more and more like a house of mirrors—something noted in a report by journalist Patrick Cockburn published Sunday in The Independent and headlined, “Foreign Media Portrayals of the Conflict in Syria are Dangerously Inaccurate.” Cockburn writes:

Every time I come to Syria I am struck by how different the situation is on the ground from the way it is pictured in the outside world. The foreign media reporting of the Syrian conflict is surely as inaccurate and misleading as anything we have seen since the start of the First World War. I can’t think of any other war or crisis I have covered in which propagandistic, biased or second-hand sources have been so readily accepted by journalists as providers of objective facts.

Slogans replace policies: the rebels are pictured as white hats and the government supporters as black hats; given more weapons, the opposition can supposedly win a decisive victory; put under enough military pressure, President Bashar al-Assad will agree to negotiations for which a pre-condition is capitulation by his side in the conflict. One of the many drawbacks of the demonising rhetoric indulged in by the incoming US National Security Adviser Susan Rice, and William Hague, is that it rules out serious negotiations and compromise with the powers-that-be in Damascus. And since Assad controls most of Syria, Rice and Hague have devised a recipe for endless war while pretending humanitarian concern for the Syrian people.

In the midst of all this confusion and pretense over humanitarian concerns comes a report from the Hudson Institute highlighting the horrendous toll the conflict has taken on Syria’s Christian population. The report documents, among other things, deaths of priests, though here again there is some suspicious timing. On June 25, two days after the murder of Father Murad, a pair of congressional subcommittees held a joint hearing on the issue of “Religious Minorities in Syria: Caught in the Middle.” This is the subject of the Hudson Institute’s report, or more specifically the report focuses on the testimony given at the hearing by one of the institute’s chief researchers on the plight of Syria’s Christians.

Such a report becomes all the more remarkable when you consider that the Hudson Institute basically could be thought of as a neocon think tank. Its senior vice president is Lewis “Scooter” Libby, while Douglas Feith is listed as a senior fellow. Is there not something strange about a report documenting rebel atrocities against Syrian Christians being released by such an organization? Doesn’t Israel want to see Assad overthrown, and haven’t the Zionist media been feeding us the spin of the rebels, as Cockburn puts it, wearing the “white hats”? What gives?

I’ll have more on this report in an upcoming post, hopefully in a day or two.

July 3, 2013 - Posted by | War Crimes | , ,

1 Comment

  1. “Caught in the middle” is not the same as “documenting rebel atrocities”. What comes out of it is that the minorities are suffering the war between the government and the rebels, they are the innocent victims of both sides! The neo-con guys are travestying the truth, of course,as we could expect. By blaming both sides of atrocities on the minorities, they are somehow whitewashing the takfiri rebels, whose political agenda includes the wiping out in Syria of apostates, heretics, blasphemers, etc., while the government is defending them by standing up for a secular state.

    Comment by Enrique Ferro | July 3, 2013

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