A massacre is a specific incident which involves the deliberate slaughter, although a tight definition has never emerged…. Robert Melson's "basic working definition," reads, "by massacre we shall mean the intentional killing by political actors of a significant number of relatively defenseless people... the motives for massacre need not be rational in order for the killings to be intentional... Mass killings can be carried out for various reasons, including a response to false rumors... political massacre... should be distinguished from criminal or pathological mass killings... as political bodies we of course include the state and its agencies, but also nonstate actors..."
Mark Levine defines massacre as involving the murder of more than one individual, "although it is not possible to set unalterable rules about when multiple murders become massacres. Equally important is that massacres are not carried out by individuals, but by groups... the use of superior, even overwhelming force..." and he excludes "legal, or even some quasi-legal, mass executions
Thousands of Christians have been forced to flee in seeking refuge from militant attacks after the siege at a Catholic cathedral in October, the United Nations said today. .
The UN High Commission For Refugees said at least 1,000 families had fled Baghdad and Mosul since 1 September for the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq. A further 133 families had registered with the organisation in Syria, as had 109 individuals in Jordan.
And Iraq is home to one of the Middle East's oldest Christian communities; the majority are Catholics belonging to the Chaldean, or Assyrian, churches.The Assyrians are thought to be the oldest Christian community, dating back to the first century. Armenian Christians moved to Iraq too, fleeing massacres in Turkey early last century.
There have been other violent campaigns against Iraq's Christians, such as a sustained attack by the Iraqi army in the 1930s, but the last 50 years had been largely benign for the various communities, which were thought to have numbered around 800,000 before the US invasion of 2003.
Things changed during the security vacuum that followed the fall of Baghdad. Christians in Mosul have been targeted by Sunni insurgents who align with the jihadi world view. Mass migrations have followed the attacks, with the number of Christians in Iraq now thought to be as low as 500,000. Those who remain see themselves as an increasingly threatened minority.
Six suicide jihadis of a group called Islamic State of Iraq attacked a Syrian Catholic church in Baghdad during Sunday evening Mass, on 31 October 2010, and started killing the worshippers, helping the Christians to hell and themselves to heaven, as they said.
Hours later Iraqi commandos stormed the church, inducing the suicide jihadis to detonate their suicide vests. 58 worshippers, priests, policemen and bystanders were killed and 78 were wounded or maimed.
World leaders expressed their abhorrence, and some Iraqi Sunni and Shi'ite imams condemned the carnage. On Sunday 31 October 2010 at 5pm,at dusk,four men ‘in military uniforms’ (as a nearby resident described later) got out of a black SUV in front of the Iraq Stock Exchange in Baghdad. Baghdad’s security spokesman Al-Moussawi later said, the men had been disguised as guards working for a private security firm and had carried fake IDs, which may have enabled them to approach the church despite checkpoints in the vicinity..
Those men were wearing suicide vests, and battled with security forces at the stock exchange, and killed two guards who tried to stop them from raiding the building In this attack also four passersby were killed
Then three other men arrived in an ordinary car, and all seven men jumped over the wall into the Sayidat al-Nejat ( Our Lady of Salvation ) Syrian Chaldean Catholic church which was just across the road, around 6pm, during Sunday Mass armed with machine guns, explosive belts and grenades, detonated their ordinary car, clashed with guards and killed some, burst through the church’s huge wooden doors and quickly closed the doors. While they came in, some 19 people managed to escape out of the church.
100 worshippers were herded to the centre of the church by the gunmen, another 60 were ushered to a small room at the back of the church by a priest The gunmen turned the lights off and started shooting. Hostages were on the floor and could not lift up their heads, and heard gunshots over their heads, over the lights, the fixtures, the Crucifix, the Madonna, everywhere. Then the gunmen also started shooting at the congregation.
One priest, Thaer Abdal, was shot dead where he stood, at the altar, then they started shooting at young people. The gunmen “were just youths”, said a 26-year-old woman. While shooting people, the gunmen said: “We will go to paradise if we kill you and you will go to hell”, and screamed: “All of you are infidels. We are here to avenge the burning of the Qur'an and the jailing of Muslim women in Egypt”. Some of the gunmen were not speaking Iraqi Arabic.
Around 8.30pm, three vehicles of U.S. troops arrived at the church. An anonymous American official said later, that their assumption of the gunmen having begun to systematically execute hostages was the reason for the Iraqi security forces to storm the church without further delay Also Iraqi Defence Minister al-Obeidi said later, the gunmen threatened to kill all hostages, and the government had no choice but to storm the church
58 people were killed that day in the church massacre and 50 or 78wounded; presumably most of them when the gunmen detonated two suicide vests. A later report spoke of 44 worshippers, two priests and seven security force personnel being killed in the church incident.Also all six attackers were killed Another source spoke of 39 worshippers, two priests, 12 policemen and five bystanders outside the church to have been killed.
An Iraqi police officer said that the suicide vests had been filled with ball bearings to kill as many people as possible, that human flesh was scattered everywhere, even stuck to the roof of the hall, and that many people went to the hospitals without legs and hands
Afterwards, Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) posted an audio message on a jihadist website again claiming responsibility for the attack, and calling for the release of two Egyptian female Muslims who they alleged were being held against their will in Coptic Christian monasteries in Egypt (see also Kamilia Shehata: an Egyptian Christian woman, allegedly converted to Islam, allegedly returned by police to her family).
Father Hanna, the leading Assyrian Catholic priest in Beirut said that 450 recently arrived families had contacted with his office and plan to ask the UN for help.
The mass movement of Iraq's Christians, the remnants of which make up one of the most ancient communities in the Middle East, was sparked by the brutal siege in a Baghdad Assyrian Catholic cathedral on October 31, which left at least 58 people dead and around 100 injured.
Since then, Christian families have been increasingly targeted in their homes, among them survivors of the church massacre. The violence is being driven by al-Qaida and its affiliates and is being seen as an attempt to ignite sectarian chaos after repeated attempts to lure Iraq's Shias back into battle had failed.
The UN described the movement as a slow but steady exodus, but Christian leaders disputed this. "I can tell you that the numbers the UN are citing are too low," said Abdullah al-Naftali, head of Iraq's Christian Endowment Group.
"We have recorded a 213% increase in normal departures since the church massacre. It is not a slow, or steady exodus - it is a rapid one."
The large numbers of families looking for refuge in Iraq's Kurdish north have been drawn there by the region's president, Massoud Barazani, who last month pledged to protect and shelter them.
Iraq's central government has also increased security around churches and Christian enclaves.
- United States – White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said: "The United States strongly condemns this senseless act of hostage taking and violence by terrorists linked to al Qaeda in Iraq that occurred Sunday in Baghdad killing so many innocent Iraqis."U.S. Representatives Anna G. Eshoo and Frank Wolf, co-chairs of the Religious Minorities in the Middle East Caucus, and seven other representatives, sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, calling for the Obama Administration to develop a comprehensive policy for the protection of indigenous religious communities in Iraq. They also offered condolences to the victims and their families.
Martin Manna, the executive director of the Michigan-based Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce, responded to the attack saying: "Our community's just so frustrated more than anything else. Security is just terrible. The Iraqi government...can't protect their people
Background on the state of al Qaeda in Iraq And his mind in the Christian Iraq:
In 1999, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi started his group Jama'at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad (“Organization of Monotheism and Jihad”) with the purpose of toppling “apostate” Arab regimes like the Jordanian monarchy.
Half a year after the above mentioned March 2003 invasion of Iraq, Zarqawi had turned his main attention to Iraq, and forged himself a reputation with brutal beheadings and a suicide bombing campaign against Shiite religious targets and Sunni civilians, but had also attacked UN representatives and the Jordanian embassy in Baghdad (August 2003)and killed or beheaded nine foreign hostages (May–October 2004).
In October 2004, Zarqawi pledged bay'ah (allegiance) to Osama bin Laden, and renamed his group as Tanzim Qaidat al-Jihad fi Bilad al-Rafidayn, more popularly known as al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), or al-Qaeda in the Land of Two Rivers, or al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia. Their butchery business continued on the same footing as before.
In January 2006, AQI became part of a larger umbrella organization Mujahideen Shura Council (MSC) still fighting “the invading kafir (infidels) and their apostatestooges...”.
On 13 October 2006, MSC declared the establishment of Islamic State of Iraq. After this declaration, claims of responsibility for butchery acts under the name of MSC eventually ceased and were replaced by claims from the Islamic State of Iraq.
In probably that same Internet statement, ISI (or ‘Al-Qaeda in Iraq’) also called the church “the dirty den of idolatry said that a deadline now expired for Egypt’s Coptic church to free those two women purportedly held captive in monasteries, that the fuse of a campaign against Iraqi Christians had been lit, and therefore now declared ”all Christian centers, organizations and institutions, leaders and followers, legitimate targets for the mujahedeen wherever they can reach them”, and, referring to the alleged Muslim women held captive in monasteries, wrote: “Let these idolaters, and at their forefront, the hallucinating tyrant of the Vatican, know that the killing sword will not be lifted from the necks of their followers until they declare their innocence from what the dog of the Egyptian Church is doing” and demanded that the Christians “pressure this belligerent church to release the captive women from the prisons of their monasteries…… The Islamic State of Iraq, al Qaeda's front organization, claimed credit for last night's massacre at a Baghdad church that killed 52 Iraqis. Al Qaeda stated that the attack at the church was launched to avenge the treatment of Muslim women in Egypt.
Al Qaeda fighters armed with suicide vests, assault rifles, and hand grenades, and wearing uniforms of a local security company, attacked the nearby stock exchange, wounding two security guards. The attack on the exchange appeared to be a feint designed to lure security forces to the area while a squad estimated at between five to eight terrorists stormed the Our Lady of Deliverance church and took 120 Christians hostage, according to the Associated Press.
Two hours later, after cordoning off the church, Iraqi security forces stormed the church, sparking a gunbattle that resulted in 52 Iraqis killed and 67 wounded. Two priests,10 Iraqi policemen, and the entire suicide squad were killed during the battle, according to reports. At least 30 of the people were killed when one of the al Qaeda terrorists either detonated his vest or lobbed hand grenades at the Christian hostages being held in the basement.
Five terrorists, including one with "an Arab nationality," or a non-Iraqi, were captured, the spokesman of the Baghdad Operational Command told Voice of Iraq.
Investigators later found "three Yemeni and two Egyptian passports thought to have belonged to the suicide bombers" at the church, an Iraqi official told The Washington Post.
Al Qaeda released a statement on the Internet claiming the attack.
"Upon guidance issued by the Ministry of War in the Islamic State of Iraq in support for our downtrodden Muslim sisters that are held captive in the Muslim land of Egypt and after accurate planning and selection, an angry group of righteous jihadists attacked a filthy den of polytheism," according to the statement, which was obtained by The Long War Journal. "This den has been frequently used by the Christians of Iraq to fight Islam and support those who are fighting it. With the grace of God, the group was able to hold captive all those in the den and take over all its entrances."
Based on the statement, it appears that al Qaeda in Iraq had hoped to hold the Christians in Baghdad hostage for at least two days, as a deadline for "the release" of Egyptian women supposedly being held in Coptic churches in Egypt was issued.
"The mujahidin in the Islamic State of Iraq give Egypt's Christian and belligerent Church as well as its chief of infidelity a 48-hour ultimatum to disclose the status of our sisters in religion, who are held captive in Egypt's monasteries of infidelity and churches of polytheism," al Qaeda demanded. "The mujahidin further demand the release of all of them together with an announcement of the release via a media outlet that the mujahidin can access within the deadline."
Al Qaeda said that if the demands were not met, "the lions of monotheism [al Qaeda's fighters], who wore their explosive belts, will not hesitate to kill the militant Iraqi Christian captives."
Al Qaeda in Iraq also threatened to carry out attacks against Christian churches across the globe.
"Afterwards, various attacks will be launched against them inside and outside this country, in which their lands will be destroyed, their strength will be undermined, and they will be afflicted by the humiliation that God ordained for them," al Qaeda said.
The attack in Baghdad took place just three days after an al Qaeda in Iraq suicide bomber killed 21 people and wounded 65 more in an attack on a cafe in the town of Balad Ruz in Diyala province. Shia Kurds were the target of the attack, which was the first major attack in Iraq more than a month.
Dadrian, Vahakn N. (1999). Warrant for Genocide: Key Elements of Turko-Armenian Conflict. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers. p. 153.
Gallant, Thomas W. (2001). "review of Levene, Roberts The Massacre in History". Crime, History & Societies 5 (1).
Melson, Robert (July 1982). "Theoretical Inquiry into the Armenian Massacres of 1894-1896". Comparative Studies in Society and History 24 (3): 482–3.
Arraf, Jane (1 November 2010). "After Baghdad church attack, Christians shocked but say 'we still have a mission here'". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved on 24 December 2014.
Members of Congress Express Condolences for Victims of Church Hostage Crisis in Baghdad" press release from Rep. Anna G. Eshoo, 2010-11-05. Retrieved 9 November 2010.
The Christian Post. 5 December 2006. Archived from the original on 6 December 2006. Retrieved 3 January 2015.
Read more: http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2010/11/al_qaeda_in_iraq_cla.php#ixzz3Q8FhMXik
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/dec/17/iraq-christians-flee-baghdad-cathedral Iraqi Christians flee Baghdad after cathedral massacre
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