Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Confusion Surrounds Fate of Abducted Bishops

00 Syrian Islamist insurgent terrorists


On Tuesday, the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch and all the East denied that it circulated reports that kidnappers released the two archbishops abducted in Aleppo in Syria. The fate of Greek Orthodox Archbishop Boulos Yazigi and Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Youhanna Ibrahim remained mired in mystery after gunmen abducted the two clergymen and killed their driver in Aleppo Monday night. The news prompted global concern that the incident risked escalating regional hostilities. Patriarch Youhanna Yazigi, the First Hierarch of the Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East, and a brother of one of the kidnapped, denied reports of the bishops’ release. According to the official AOCANA website, in a phone call to Metropolitan Philip Saliba of North America, he said, “These reports are false, and the release of these two hierarchs hasn’t taken place”.

Tuesday afternoon, Bishop Tony Yazigi told Reuters that reports claimed that the kidnapped bishops were now free, saying, “The two are on their way to the patriarchate in Aleppo”. However, by Tuesday evening, with no word on the bishops’ arrival, it wasn’t clear whether they’d reached the city. Details about the circumstances and location of the initial abduction were also unclear. State news sources initially reported that gunmen abducted the two whilst they were carrying out humanitarian work in the village of Kfour Dael in Aleppo Governorate. However, a source in the Greek Orthodox diocese later told AFP the men were in the rebel-held Bab al-Hawa area, near the Turkish border.

Italian Fr Paolo dall’Oglio SJ, who ran an interfaith monastery in Syria and participated in hostage release negotiations in Idlib before being expelled from the country in June, told The Daily Star that he had doubts about the story. He questioned why the bishops would be crossing the frontline into rebel-held areas, given the current security situation in the north of the country, saying, “I’m not astonished that they were kidnapped, but I’m astonished that they were travelling to rebel areas given that the church has been in solidarity with the régime”.

Government and opposition officials traded accusations throughout the day over who was responsible for the kidnapping. According to state news agency SANA, the government’s Endowment Ministry, which is responsible for religious affairs, described the capture as a “terrorist act”. It added that Chechen mercenaries working for Jabhat al-Nusra carried out the attack; that’s an al-Qaeda-aligned organisation the USA designated a terrorist group. An official from the Syriac Orthodox diocese echoed the government, saying, “The news which we have received is that an armed group … [of] Chechens stopped the car and kidnapped the two bishops while the driver was killed”. Dall’Oglio told The Daily Star he was sceptical of the details, saying, “I’d be very prudent with the information we have been given. How do they know they’re Chechens?”

The opposition National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces placed blame for the bishop’s capture firmly in the régime’s hands. A press release from the group stated, “Initial investigations conducted by the Syrian Coalition regarding the kidnapping and killing of Father Youhanna Ibrahim’s bodyguard implicate the Assad régime in this crime. The Free Syrian Army categorically denies any responsibility for this kidnapping. The Assad regime was angered by [Archbishop Ibrahim’s] latest statement, in which he stated that the survival of Christians in Syria isn’t linked to the survival of the régime”. The statement refers to an interview Ibrahim gave to the BBC on 13 April, when he indicated that the death toll in Syria’s 2-year-old civil war was 100,000, higher than the UN official figure of 70,000.

Ahmad Moaz al-Khatib, who resigned as head of the coalition Sunday, also suggested the regime might be involved. In a post on his personal Facebook page, he said, “Whilst Syria’s seen thousands of its sons and daughters kidnapped … the latest kidnapping aims at igniting an unprecedented conflict that we should avoid. The kidnapper might be an external intelligence apparatus that’s pouring oil on the fire”. Whilst confusion reigned over the fate of the bishops, Lebanese and world figures rushed to condemn the kidnappings. The Vatican said Pope Francisco Bergoglio was praying for the bishops’ “well-being and liberation” whilst the Moscow Patriarchate called for the release of the men. Lebanese President Michel Suleiman said the abductions wouldn’t yield the desired results, but didn’t speculate on who was behind the attacks.

24 April 2013

Nadia Massih

Lauren Williams

The Daily Star



Two Kidnapped Syrian Bishops Freed

00 Syrian Church 2012


According to a Christian source, two Syrian bishops reportedly kidnapped carrying out humanitarian work in northern Aleppo Governorate have been released. Greek Orthodox Bishop Tony Yazigi said that the kidnapped clerics, Bishop Boulos Yazigi of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch and all the East and Bishop Youhanna Ibrahim of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch and all the East, were released on Tuesday, and arrived safely in the city of Aleppo. It wasn’t immediately clear who’d abducted the men.

Syrian state media reported that rebels seized the two bishops whilst they were on a humanitarian mission and killed their driver. However, the opposition accused the régime of being behind the abduction, which Pope Francisco Bergoglio and the  Moscow Patriarchate condemned. Kidnappings have become increasingly prevalent in Syria as law and order broke down with the spread of the conflict between rebels and loyalist troops.

Al Jazeera‘s Rula Amin, reporting from Beirut, said the kidnapping “generated a lot of concern to the Christian community in Aleppo and throughout Syria”. Several prominent Muslim clerics were killed in Syria’s uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, but the two bishops are the most senior Christian leaders caught up in the conflict. Activists and human rights groups say that minority groups, including Christians, have become particularly vulnerable. Christians account for about five percent of Syria’s population, and they’ve remained largely neutral or supportive of the régime since the outbreak of the uprising against the government in early 2011. Still, the Syrian opposition also includes prominent Christian members, including George Sabra, a long-time dissident who became interim head of the opposition Syrian National Coalition on Monday.

23 April 2013

Al Jazeera



Antiochian Metropolitan Boulos Yazigi Kidnapped Outside Aleppo along with Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan Youhanna Ibrahim

00 Syria 02.12 jihadists 'Free Syrian Army'

The USA and its Western allies, along with their lickspittle client states in the Gulf, support these rebels… this action shows their true evil nature to all concerned.


Editor’s Foreword:

The Antiochian metropolitan kidnapped is the brother of the Antiochian Patriarch.



Translated from here. More as soon as any news comes out. The name of the driver killed by the rebels, a deacon in the Syriac Orthodox Church, is Fatuh. May his memory be eternal!

Near the city of Aleppo, armed men kidnapped Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Boulos al-Yazigi of Aleppo and Iskanderun, and Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan Youhanna Ibrahim of Aleppo. An-Nahar learned that the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, which received news of the kidnapping of the two metropolitans this evening, wouldn’t issue any statement before tomorrow, pending their receiving complete and precise information about the kidnapping. According to details relayed to an-Nahar by concerned sources, Metropolitan Boulos was on the Turkish side of his archdiocese, which extends from Aleppo to Antakya, and Metropolitan Ibrahim had come along to accompany him. Along the road on their return to Aleppo, an armed group stopped them before they could arrive to the city, killing Ibrahim’s driver and kidnapping the two metropolitans. The Orthodox metropolitan’s office relates that the two metropolitans weren’t injured. Metropolitan Boulos is the brother of Greek Orthodox Patriarch Youhanna al-Yazigi of Antioch and all the East. Additional information came into an-Nahar indicating the possibility of a connection of this incident to what happened in Boston, since the kidnappers include individuals from Chechnya. Intensive contacts are underway to establish the circumstances of the incident.

22 April 2013

Notes on Arab Orthodoxy



Monday evening, the National News Agency of Lebanon reported that Syrian rebels kidnapped two bishops from Aleppo in the outskirts of the city Monday evening. During the attack, the rebels killed the driver of Boulos al-Yazigi, the Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Aleppo and Iskandarun, and Yohanna Ibrahim, the Syrian-Orthodox Metropolitan of Aleppo. The NNA reported that Ibrahim, Yazigi, and the third man, also a priest, were driving from a village near the Turkish border to Aleppo. As they approached the city, an armed group met them, who forced them out of the car. We believe that the bishops are alive, and efforts continue to secure their release.

22 April 2013

Daily Star


See also:


Editor’s Afterword:

Suffice it to say, the rebels are the darlings of the US Republican Party (especially, the neocons). That speaks volumes, both of the rebels and the Republicans. Victor Potapov and James Paffhausen can’t “spin” this one. The Church can’t ally itself with the Republicans… not only do they support the Uniate foes of our Church wholeheartedly, they support these murderous rebels. Read n’ heed…



Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.