Catholic Priest Beheaded by Syrian Jihadists

Monday, 01 Jul 2013 07:25 PM

By Greg Richter

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A Catholic priest and two other men were beheaded by Syrian jihadist fighters in June, with cheering onlookers recording video on their smart phones.

The official Vatican news agency has confirmed the death of Franciscan Father Francois Murad on June 23. The killers, linked to the group Jabhat al-Nusra, claimed Murad was collaborating with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Murad had taken refuge in the convent Custody of the Holy Land after the monastery of St. Simon had been bombed at the start of the Syrian civil war.

The crowd yells "Allahu akbar" as Murad is lain face-down on the ground and beheaded with what appears to be a kitchen knife, the Daily Mail reports.

Cellphone cameras are thrust forward by several members of the crowd to record the event. At least one of them was uploaded to the video-sharing site LiveLeak.com.

The 49-year-old priest originally went to Syria to build a monastery dedicated to St. Simon Stylites, according to a Vatican press release.

"Lately, father Murad sent me some messages that clearly showed how conscious he was of living in a dangerous situation, and offered his life for peace in Syria and around the world," said Archbishop Jacques Behnan Hindo, titular of the Syrian Catholic Archeparchy in Hassake-Nisibis.

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