By BosNewsLife Correspondents Eric Leijenaar and Stefan J. Bos
MOSUL, IRAQ (BosNewsLife) -- The United States military said Wednesday, October 15, it had killed a key leader of the 'Al Qaeda in Iraq' terrorist network in the main northern Iraqi city of Mosul where suspected armed militants linked to the group have been roaming the streets and reportedly killed up to 40 Christians in recent days.
A military statement said a foreign insurgent killed in Mosul has been identified as Abu Qaswarah, Al-Qaeda's number two in Iraq. "Abu Qaswarah, also known as Abu Sara, was the Al-Qaeda in Iraq senior leader of northern Iraq," the statement added.
It added that Abu Qaswarah, a native of Morocco who was killed in a raid in Mosul on October 5, had ties to Al Qaeda in Iraq's founder Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed in a US air strike in Iraq in June, 2006.
News of the killing came as Christians confirmed that "armed terrorists" are roaming the streets of Mosul killing anyone carrying Christian identity papers. "They control everyone on her or his identity papers. If they discover that person is a Christian, he is killed on the spot," said Netherlands-based Open Doors, which investigates the plight of persecuted Christians and supports these believers around the world.
It told BosNewsLife that Christians in Mosul, build on the remnants of the Biblical toen of Nineveh, have begun round-the-clock prayers and fasting, and appealed to fellow believers worldwide to pray for them. "In the last four or five days at least 25, and possibly 40 Christians have been killed in the streets here for political and religious reasons," said one praying Christian living in Mosul in a statement distributed by Open Doors to BosNewsLife.
"In the past, Christians were kidnapped and had to pay ransom to be released. Now they are immediately killed," the Christian said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of security concerns. "The government, including American authorities, are not doing anything. Only after three days of violence media began giving attention to the situation [of Christians]."
Iraq's government has denied it is passive, saying 1,000 additional police are being deployed in Mosul to protect Christians. However over 3,000 Christians have reportedly fled Mosul, many to neighboring villages. "They live in difficult circumstances. Many sleep in their car amid fear and worries," Open Doors' Christian contact said.
PRAYING FOR TERRORISTS
"We pray for the terrorists that they will see who is the true God. We also pray for Christians that they will live closer to God and the many families who lost those they loved and/or their home and money." The Christian said that his fellow believers pray that they will "never forget that the Lord Jesus prepares a place" for everyone who believes in Him "in heaven."
The contact added it was also important that believers living in safe areas do what Jezus asked in Bibleverse Mark 9:41: "For whoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because you belong to Christ, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward."
Meanwhile, the United Nations special representative to Iraq, Staffan de Mistura expressed concern at the violence targeting Christians and "strongly condemned" the murder of civilians. "These acts are aimed to fuel tensions and exacerbate instability at a critical time," he said in a statement.
De Mistura said the recent flight of families from Mosul prompted the United Nations to assess the situation closely.The agency had provided help to 102 families as well as emergency assistance on Sunday, October 12, to another 400, he told reporters.
Separately, Muslim scholars spoke out against the anti-Christian violence in northern Iraq. The condemnation from the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) came on Tuesday, October 14, as Iraq's government pledged to send officials to the ethnically mixed city of Mosul to investigate the attacks.
The October 5 attack on the building in Mosul, considered by US commanders as Al-Qaeda's last urban stronghold in Iraq, led also to the death of four other insurgents as well three women and three children, the military said in an earlier report.
Also this month, US forces killed a suspected Al-Qaeda militant believed to have planned some of the deadliest bombings in Baghdad and to have killed a group of Russian diplomats in 2006, news reports said. Mahir Ahmad Mahmud al-Zubaydi, also known as Abu Assad or Abu Rami, was killed along with an unnamed woman in Baghdad's Sunni district of Adhamiyah on Friday, October 10, according to a military statement.
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