The Last Gasp of the Cradle Christians

Image: Institute for Global Engagement/Cradle Fund

Image: Institute for Global Engagement/Cradle Fund

“The American church has a key role in rescuing, restoring, and returning Christians and other religious minorities who have fled ISIS.”

Chris Seiple, president of the Institute for Global Engagement, cites the FRRME-funded school in Jordan as an example of the right way to help those persecuted by ISIS.

Article first published in Christianity Today, 8 June 2015


Vatican lauds our Jordan education program!

Cardinal Filoni visits Iraqi refugees in Jordan: "I admired the generosity of so many"

Amman (Agenzia Fides) – Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, was sent by the Holy Father to Iraq (see Fides 27/03/2015) to express, the closeness, affection and the union of the Pope’s prayer with the many “Christian families and other groups of victims who were expelled from their homes and their villages, particularly in the city of Mosul and the Nineveh plain, many of whom had taken refuge in the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan”. Already in August 2014, Cardinal Filoni, was sent by Pope Francis to the Asian country to express spiritual closeness to the suffering peoples and bring the solidarity of the Church.

Cardinal Filoni, according to information sent to Agenzia Fides, stopped-over in Jordan, Amman yesterday, where he was able to visit two parishes that welcome Iraqi refugees and met the head of Caritas Jordan. “I also saw the preparation for the reception of about twenty families” informs the Cardinal. “I admired the generosity of so many. It is nice to see that these families are able to regain their dignity and an atmosphere of friendship. In the parish of Mary Mother of the Church there is an afternoon school for the children of refugees. About 300 children. There is also an English course for adults and a small club for adult men”. Last night Cardinal Filoni left for Baghdad.

(SL) (Agenzia Fides 31/03/2015)

Fight ISIS on the Ideas Front, too

A new human-rights report exposes the group’s horrific crimes.

Fight ISIS on the Ideas Front

Former congressman Frank Wolf released yesterday an important new human-rights report on Iraq’s religious minorities, aptly entitled “Edge of Extinction.” Detailing some of the Islamic terrorists’ cruelest practices, particularly with respect to women and children, this documentation should serve as the opening salvo in the long-neglected battle of ideas over Islamic extremism.

Mr. Wolf, who stepped down from his congressional seat last month, just returned from Iraq with the new Christian human-rights group, the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative, where he is a distinguished senior fellow. In Kurdistan, less than two miles from the front line, he and his team interviewed Christians and Yazidis persecuted by the Islamic State, banished from their homes, and now huddled with hundreds of thousands like them in abject misery in Iraq’s northernmost province.

One Christian woman, whose family could not flee the city of Qaraqosh when the Islamic State invaded on August 6 because her husband is blind, told Wolf, “We could hear ‘Allah akbar!’ in the streets. ‘Christians, go away or we will kill you.’ After that they came to our house. ‘Convert or we will kill you.’” The next thing she knew, the jihadists had snatched her three-year-old daughter from her lap, and took the baby away.

A Yazidi teenager called Du’a told Wolf that she was captured by the Islamic State near Sinjar and taken to Mosul where she was held with 700 other girls. One of the kidnapped girls was a seven-month-old child. The report recounts their experience in Mosul: “The girls were separated according to eye color, and members of IS were allowed to choose the young women according to their personal preference.” The left-over girls were then “separated into ‘pretty’ and ‘ugly’ groups with those deemed most beautiful transported elsewhere.” After this humiliation, Du’a was forcibly “married” to a Muslim man. Deeply traumatized, she nevertheless later managed to escape.

What has become of the other kidnap victims? Some were killed, committed suicide, or trafficked as sex slaves. The Wilberforce team was not able to find out the specific fates of most. The Qaraqosh family’s toddler girl is still missing, as is the Yazidi infant.

But in a report of February 4, 2015, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child sheds some light on the fate of the Islamic State’s kidnapped children. It states that “markets” have been set up by the group, “in which they sell abducted children and women attaching price tags to them.” It notes that the former Badoush prison outside Mosul is now used as a “makeshift prison” for “the sexual enslavement of children.”

The Committee also reports on the systematic killing of minority children by the Islamic State, including “several cases of mass executions of boys, as well as reports of beheadings, crucifixions of children and burying children alive.”

Foreign fighters continue to stream into Iraq and Syria in unprecedented numbers to join the Islamic State and other terrorist groups, Nick Rasmussen, chief of the National Counter Terrorism Center attested yesterday at a House Homeland Security hearing. Committee chairman Representative Michael McCaul (R., Texas) called the influx “the largest convergence of Islamist terrorists in world history.” At least 20,000 foreigners from 90 different countries have flocked there so far. U.S. intelligence officials fear this is creating a worldwide security problem, creating the conditions for more terror attacks like the one recently carried out in Paris, which was led by a French Muslim who reportedly trained with Al-Qaeda in Yemen.

The military and security measures being discussed on Capitol Hill are inarguably necessary but there is also an important battle of ideas that should be taken seriously. The establishment of a caliphate in the heart of the Arab world has evoked a positive vision of an earthly utopia for some young radical Muslims, even for some born and raised in the West. The sickening injustices and cruelties of the Islamic State, the genocide of religious minorities, as the Wolf report terms it, needs to be publicized. After a flurry of media reports last August, human-rights reporting on the Islamic State has slowed. It must be sustained. Reports such as these give the lie to any dream that the Islamic State’s marauding is anything but an un-holy war.

Originally published:

Nina Shea is the director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom and a co-author of Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians.

New Officers and Board Members

New Officers and Board Members December 2014

FRRME America Executive Committee (left to right), John Busterud, former Vice Chairman; Kevin Douglas, Treasurer; Connie Wilson, Secretary; Nina Shea, Vice Chairman; Scott Rye, Chairman; Woody Hogle, Immediate Past Chairman; and David Greer, Executive Director.


WASHINGTON, D.C.—The American Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East elected new officers and approved three new members of the board at its Annual Meeting held here Dec. 4-5.

Foundation President Canon Andrew White, Vicar Emeritus, St. George’s Church, Baghdad, and Dr. Sarah Ahmed, the Foundation’s Director of Operations, attended the meeting and provided updates on recent humanitarian relief and religious reconciliation efforts in Iraq, Kurdistan, Palestine and Jordan. The Board also discussed a number of initiatives for the coming year as the humanitarian crisis continues in Iraq, Syria, Jordan and elsewhere in the Middle East.

Scott Rye was elected Chairman of FRRME America. Rye previously served two consecutive terms as Treasurer, as well as serving on the Foundation’s Crisis Management Committee. A captain in the U.S. Navy Reserve, he served in Iraq as the Chief of Multi-National Force—Iraq’s Media Operations Center and as a member of the Joint Interagency Personnel Recovery Task Force. Rye is the Director of Black Flag Communications, providing crisis communications and government and public relations. The author of two books, Rye read mediaeval British history and Arthurian literature at St. John’s College, Oxford, and is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Rhodes College.

Nina Shea was elected as the Foundation’s Vice Chairman. An international human rights attorney for more than 30 years, Shea is a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute, where she directs the Center for Religious Freedom. In that role, Shea undertakes scholarship and advocacy in defense of those persecuted for their religious beliefs and identities. For 10 years prior to joining the Hudson Institute, Shea worked at Freedom House, where she directed the Center for Religious Freedom. She served seven terms as a Commissioner on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, has served as a U.S. delegate to the United Nation’s main human rights body, and in 2009, was appointed to serve as a member of the U.S. National Commission to UNESCO. Shea is the co-author of two books and has written extensively on religious freedom issues. A member of the bar in the District of Columbia, Shea is a graduate of Smith College and American University’s Washington College of Law.

Connie Wilson was reelected as Secretary. Connie and her husband, Bill, a retired brigadier general in the Georgia National Guard, are long-time friends and supporters of FRRME President Canon Andrew White. Connie splits her time between Washington, D.C., and Jerusalem, where she and Bill maintain an active ministry.

Kevin Douglas was elected as Treasurer of the Foundation. Douglas is an attorney with the Nashville law firm of Bass, Berry and Sims. His practice focuses on corporate governance, securities laws compliance and corporate transactions. Douglas’ experience ranges from providing SEC disclosure advice to the audit committee of a Fortune 100 company, to representing numerous public companies in significant acquisitions and other strategic transactions, to negotiating a settlement agreement with a significant shareholder activist to resolve a threatened proxy fight. Douglas has published a number of articles on legal issues. Prior to joining Bass, Berry and Sims, Douglas practiced at Sherrard & Roe, PLC, in Nashville, and at Latham & Watkins in Washington, D.C. Douglas is a graduate of the University of Virginia and holds a J.D. from Vanderbilt University Law School, where he was a member of the Vanderbilt Law Review.

Elected to the Board was Stuart W. Bowen, Jr., who currently serves as a Senior Advisor to both the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Bowen previously served as Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction and Inspector General for the Coalition Provisional Authority. Bowen was Special Assistant to the President and Associate Counsel before becoming Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Staff Secretary from 2001 to 2003. Prior to working in the White House, Bowen served as Deputy General Counsel to the Governor of Texas and before that was an Assistant Attorney General of Texas. A former Air Force Intelligence officer, Bowen graduated from The University of the South with a dual major in economics and English and from St. Mary’s University Law School, where he was Research and Note and Comment Editor for the St. Mary’s Law Journal.

May Al-Najjar was elected to the Board. Al-Najjar currently works with TD Bank in Washington, D.C. A native Iraqi, Al-Najjar has worked for a number of multi-national companies in Iraq and Jordan, as well as the Coalition Provisional Authority and the NGO Médecins Sans Frontières. Al-Najjar holds degrees from the Mustansiriya Baghdad University and the University of the District of Columbia.

Also elected to the Board, the Rev. Meg Saunders serves as Associate Rector of Christ the Saviour Anglican Church in Alexandria, Va. Her previous experience includes serving as Assistant Rector at St. Brendan’s in the City; as a writer, researcher and project manager at HarperCollins; and as the Director of Communications and Research, United States Senate Office of the Chaplain; as well as other positions in both government and the private sector. She also served as a missionary, teaching in a secondary school in Kenya. She is the author of “First Thoughts,” a weekly devotional. Saunders has a B.A. in Speech Communications from Baylor University, an M.A. in American History from Fordham University, and an M.Div. from Trinity School for Ministry.

Lt. Gen. Walter S. “Woody” Hogle, Jr., USAF (Ret.), will remain on the Executive Committee as Immediate Past Chairman. Brig. Gen. David E. Greer, USA (Ret.), will continue his role as Executive Director of the American Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East.

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