Fr Jacques Mourad reveals that his humanitarian work, helped by funding from charities, inspired a friend to plot his escape from kidnap and captivity at the hands of the Islamist terror group
Fr Jacques Mourad has revealed that he escaped from Daesh (ISIS) in Syria with the help of a friend whose family had been helped by the priest’s programme of aid to the poor and disadvantaged.
After nearly six months at the hands of the Islamist terror group, Fr Mourad escaped Daesh-held Qaratayn on the back of a motorbike disguised as an Islamist fighter thanks the help of the friend.
The friend—who had links with Daesh—told Fr Mourad he was impressed by the priest’s humanitarian relief work in Qaratayn helping with food, shelter and medicine—funded by charities including Aid to the Church in Need.
“What ACN has done to help us has played a great role in setting me free,” Fr Mourad (above after his escape) said in an exclusive interview with ACN.
Fr Mourad, whose outreach to Muslims led him to be known as ‘Sheikh Jacques,’ said that when Qaratayn’s water supplies were cut off he helped build a reservoir with the help of ACN.
He aded he was convinced that this help had caused the militants to show leniency towards 150 Christians held hostage by Daesh in Qaratayn.
Speaking by telephone from Syria, Fr Mourad said: “The help of people such as you at ACN has helped protect the Christians in the hands of Daesh.”
He described how pressure from Muslims in Qaratayn had prompted his return to the city under house arrest following 84 days in a Daesh prison at the terror group’s headquarters in Raqqa, northern Syria.
“One day, one of the ISIS leaders came to me and said: ‘Everybody in Qaratayn had been talking about you, asking for you,’” he said.
“So he told me to come with him. “I was led away—still blindfolded and with hands bound— and I was taken into what seemed like a huge tunnel. “Some time later, they removed my blindfold and I could see all my parish in front of me in the shelter that ACN had built. It was amazing.”
Fr Mourad said that every day in the prison Islamists would threaten to kill him. “I was waiting for the moment when they would come and slit my throat,” he said, adding he was convinced his efforts to remain calm and at peace helped save his life.
“I was very conscious of the prayers of so many people—the prayers of St Ignatius of Loyola and Charles de Foucauld—‘Father, I abandon myself into your hands; do with me what you will,’” he said.
BY JOHN PONTIFEX