Al Qaeda in Syria – which after evolving into Al Nusra, is now called Hayaat Tahrir Al Sham  – continues to seize the houses, land and property of Christians in the province of Idlib under its control, Asia News reports. In a statement issued by Tahrir Al Sham and published four days ago, we read:
“All the Christian goods are considered spoils of war and consequently they will be seized”. Three days ago, the Armenian Catholic Patriarchate confirmed to AsiaNews that the Islamic terrorist groups of Idlib are confiscating the assets of the Christians who fled during the war after the occupation by Daesh.
An inhabitant of Gisr el Sheghur – who wanted to remain anonymous – is among those who have occupied an abandoned house. He himself declares that La Hayaat “has informed all the inhabitants who have occupied houses belonging to Christians who have fled, to leave or to agree to pay a monthly rent” to the Islamic terrorist organization.
There is also the expropriation of the homes of Christians left to their friends or neighbors. Al Hasyat does not recognize these legal powers of attorney. The most beautiful houses are assigned to Islamic leaders; other houses or shops are sold or rented. The seizures do not concern Christians still in the city, which are very few and composed mainly of old people.
Christians in the province of Idlib, composed mainly of Armenians and Greek Orthodox, had to flee in 2012. Known to be wealthy and owners of land and houses, the Christians abandoned everything, fleeing to areas controlled by the government. Many others have opted to emigrate abroad: some only temporarily to Turkey, Lebanon or Armenia; others have chosen never to return and have gone to Europe, America, Australia.
The Christians of the province were concentrated mainly in the city of Idlib, but also in the surrounding villages of the agricultural and industrial hinterland, as well as in the new urban centers of Gisr el Sheghur, Halluz, Yaacobibya and Al Ghassaniya. At the beginning of 2012, many Christians suffered ferocious persecution by Daesh. Many of them were beheaded, under the guise of being “the Damascus regime” supporters.
Since the Islamic armed groups of the Syrian Revolution have taken control, direct persecution and acts of terrorism towards Christians have increased. The faithful are urged to abjure or be condemned to death in case of refusal. Another way out is escape. Above all, Daesh and Al Nusra have abducted many priests and nuns and have demolished churches and monasteries and turned them into graveyards for mass graves. Among the many testimonies, there is that of the Greek Orthodox church of Al Ghassaniya (December 2013).
In 2015, in the city of Idlib, the church dedicated to Our Lady was ransacked and defiled by Gind El Aqsa, “The Soldiers of Al Aqsa”. Together with the allied fundamentalist factions, Hayaat Tahrir Al Sham controls almost 70% of the territories of the province of Idlib. It is made up of thousands of Syrian fighters, but also Arab and non-Arab jihadists. The remaining 30% of the territory is controlled by less fundamentalist groups, but always opposed to Christians.
This part is in fact controlled by groups left by Al Qaeda and Isis, such as the “Islamic Turkic Party”, nostalgic for the Turkish Ottoman Empire; “Sekur Al Ghab” (Forest Falcons); Ansar Al Tawhid (Apostles of Unity); Haras Al Din (Guardians of Religion); Ajdad Al Caucaz (The Grandparents of the Caucasus), composed of Chechens and Turkish Azerbaijani; Jeysh Al Izza (The Army of Glory) and many others. Only a small group belongs to the free Syrian Army.
Two Arab-Israelis Arrested for Joining Islamic State
Two Arab-Israelis have been arrested and charged with terrorist training and conspiracy to commit murder on behalf of the Islamic State terror group, Israel’s Shin Bet security agency said on Wednesday.
The two, identified as 22-year-old medical student Amin Yassin and 28-year-old Ali al-Aroush, both from the Arab-Israeli city of Tamra, had previously been arrested on suspicion of committing IS-related security offenses.
They were re-arrested in July in a joint operation by the Shin Bet and Israel Police.
The indictment, filed Wednesday, found that the two “see themselves as envoys, until the establishment of an Islamic State in Israel,” the Shin Bet said in a statement.
The pair were found to have downloaded “substantial” material connected with the terror group, including instructions on weaponry and how to carry out terrorist attacks “at a suitable time for the benefit of Jihad,” the statement said.
“The Shin Bet will continue to work with the police to expose suspects operating for the Islamic State terrorist organization,” the agency stated, “and will take the necessary enforcement measures to prevent any activity that is detrimental to state security, including the dissemination of the Islamic State terrorist-organization material in Israel.”
While Israel does not have an Islamic State presence within its borders, there have been several arrests of Arab Israelis suspected of links to the terror group. There have also been several dozen Arab Israelis who have crossed the border into neighboring Syria with plans to join the group.
Earlier this month, an Arab-Israeli who joined the Islamic State in Syria but was captured by Assad forces begged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to allow him to return to Israel, saying he promised to be “a better, more serious human being.”
Sayyaf Sharif Daoud also said that Israel was a democratic country and, unlike the Assad regime, did not rape and kill its own citizens.
“Us Arabs live together in Israel with the Jews. There is no injustice. We are treated just like the Jews,” Daoud said.
YouTube shuts down more than 200 channels posting about Hong Kong protests
Google announced Thursday that it had disabled 210 YouTube channels that were uploading videos “in a coordinated manner” about the ongoing protests in Hong Kong. It says the channels appeared to be part of a coordinated influence campaign against the pro-democracy protests.
The action came as Twitter and Facebook accused the Chinese government of backing a social media campaign to discredit Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement and sow political discord in the city.
Google-owned service said in a blog post it discovered channels “behaved in a coordinated manner against pro-democracy protests”.
“We disabled 210 channels on YouTube when we discovered channels in this network behaved in a coordinated manner while uploading videos related to the ongoing protests in Hong Kong,” Shane Huntley of Google’s security threat analysis group said in a blog post.
“This discovery of the 210 YouTube channels was consistent with recent observations and actions related to China announced by Facebook and Twitter.”
Biblical Site Where Jesus Performed a Miracle Reportedly Uncovered Near Sea of Galilee
Archaeologists working on a dig site on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee claim that they have discovered the ruins of the legendary settlement of Bethsaida, which is mentioned in the Gospels as the place where Jesus Christ healed a blind man.
According to Christianity Today, excavations started back in 2016 under the supervision of Professor Mordechai Aviam from the Kinneret College, with a small budget and an equally small team.
Operating under the assumption that a settlement existed at el Araj for over a thousand years spanning the Roman, Byzantine, Islamic and Crusader periods, the dig team first discovered the remains of a Crusader sugar factory “that had mostly reused still-standing Byzantine walls” at the site, later unearthing a Byzantine monastery accompanied by a church.
The two probes dug by the team below the Byzantine floors yielded Roman pottery and a considerable number of coins but no Byzantine objects; the team also found a layer of silt they later traced to the Jordan River.
As the media outlet points out, the researchers now hope to learn more about Bethsaida in order to expand their knowledge about the settlement’s place in the Bible.
News of the development comes after archaeologists announced the discovery of the fabled Church of the Apostles which, according to Christian tradition, was built over the home of Peter and Andrew, the disciples of Jesus Christ, in Bethsaida.
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