Fourth man ‘kidnapped’ with Syrian bishops

Fourth man ‘kidnapped’ with Syrian bishops

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Fourth man ‘kidnapped’ with Syrian bishops

There was a fourth person with the bishops in addition to the driver and the only witness to the incident was an old man, says the relative of a kidnapped bishop.

A fourth person was also kidnapped alongside two Syrian bishops and a driver before being released, a member of the Syrian National Council (SNC) has claimed, adding that the bishops were still alive.

“There was a fourth person with the bishops in addition to the driver. The only witness to the incident was Fuad Eliya,” Jamil Diarbekirli, who is also a member of the Syriac Democratic Organization and the nephew of the Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan bishop, told the Hürriyet Daily News.

Close friend of bishops

Aleppo Greek Orthodox Bishop Boulos Yaziji and Syriac Orthodox Bishop Yohanna Ibrahim were kidnapped on April 22 by armed men while en route from the Turkish border. Diarbekirli said he was told that the bishops were in good health and they are being held in a village near Aleppo.

There have been numerous speculations on the kidnapping, Diarbekirli said. “Fuad and the driver were told that they were free to go but when Fuad insisted on staying with the bishops he was threatened with death; he was forced to leave. The driver left the scene immediately but was killed three hours later, not by the men who kidnapped the group.” He said Eliya was in his 70s and a close friend of the metropolitan bishops, adding that they were still in touch with him.

‘Muslims also suffer’

When Diarbekirli was asked whether the Muslim Brotherhood was behind the kidnapping, he said this possibility was unlikely.

He also called on the kidnappers to release them.

“Not only Christians but also Muslims are suffering because of this incident. I wish that the bishops would be released.”

Diarbekirli also crticized poor western support for the Chirstians suffering from the crisis in Syria.