CBS’ Lara Logan is a wonderful journalist who has consistently shown bravery in the face of danger and brought important stories from around the world to American viewers. It was just a few short years ago in 2011 that Logan was attacked, sexually assaulted and brutally beaten by a mob of Muslim men while reporting on the revolution in Egypt that toppled dictator Hosni Mubarak. She recently travelled to Iraq to report on what may be the most important story of her life – the genocide being committed by ISIS against the Assyrian Christian population.
Logan was in Northeastern Iraq near the 2nd largest city in the nation, Mosul. Mosul and the region surrounding the city are now under the control of ISIS and life there is very difficult, but it is most difficult for the ever shrinking Christian population. What was once a thriving Christian community is now withering under the intense pressure being exerted by ISIS. Thousands of Assyrian Christians have been murdered, tens of thousands more have fled the region and still ISIS continues hunting those who are left over.
As it seeks to erase Christianity from the landscape, the Islamic state allows no Christian symbols. It just released these photographs which show the desecration of the church at what is believed to be the monastery of Mar Gorgis, just north of Mosul.
And nothing is sacred. ISIS blew up this mosque just over a month after taking here — it’s a site holy to both Christians and Muslims because the Old Testament prophet Jonah was said to be buried inside.
Just like the Nazis marked the property of Jews, Christian homes in Mosul have been marked with this red symbol. It’s the Arabic letter N – for Nasara – an early Islamic term for Christians. When ISIS puts it on your home, you either convert to Islam, pay an extortion tax or face the sword.
Issah Al Qurain is one of tens of thousands who had to make that choice. He was at home with his family in the Christian village where he’d lived all his life, when ISIS fighters came looking for him. He told us the fighters first took all his money – then his wife and children.
Lara Logan: They were telling you convert, convert, convert?
Issah Al Qurain (translated): Yes, convert. In the beginning, I refused. I told them I was Christian and I had my religion and they had their religion. But they told me, if you don’t convert, we will kill you and take your wife and children.
And the world does nothing.
One of the most striking aspects of Logan’s report from Iraq has to be the idea that locals believe that pulling out from Iraq in 2011 was a bigger mistake than invading Iraq in 2003! At least from the perspective of the people in northern Iraq, who now face down the ISIS scourge, they cannot believe that the USA would leave the country with the job half done.
When the U.S. withdrew completely in 2011, Archbishop Warda says the situation became even worse because Iraq’s new leaders were incapable of governing without help.
Archbishop Bashar Warda: I think American support was needed, needed forcefully. You cannot leave the country like this and tell them, “Well, we’ve liberated you. We cannot do the job for you and we are walking away. This is your country, rule it.”
Lara Logan: So, in your view walking away in 2011 was just as damaging to Iraq as 2003 when the U.S. invaded?
Archbishop Bashar Warda: Yes. It’s not blaming, but that’s the reality. This is not what you came for in 2003. The 4,000 sacrifices of the American soldiers was not meant to come to this day.
Most everyone we met welcomed U.S.-led airstrikes here, but they also said it is not nearly enough. Taking back Mosul – a city of about 1.5 million people — is widely understood to be a difficult prospect. Archbishop Warda believes the Iraqi army can’t do it alone and as long as the city remains in the hands of ISIS – who he refers to as Da’esh, its Arabic name — no Christians will be going home.
Lara Logan: So you want to see a major military offensive to retake Mosul?
Archbishop Bashar Warda: Yea, to get Iraq to its normal situation.
Lara Logan: And by getting Iraq to its normal situation, you mean restoring the border between Iraq and Syria?
Archbishop Bashar Warda: Yes.
Lara Logan: Getting rid of Da’esh, the Islamic State?
Archbishop Bashar Warda: Exactly.
Lara Logan: Defeating them militarily?
Archbishop Bashar Warda: Please God.
I’m what some might call a “non-interventionist.” It’s a philosophy that is akin to “live and let live” but in a geo-political sense. More often than not I’d rather the USA not get involved in the affairs of others. If it were up to me our military would have a lot less to do around the world on a daily basis… but in Iraq and Syria, I would make an exception. These people are near helpless militarily, and much of the pain they are currently suffering is because our leaders were too short-sighted to see what would happen if we pulled out of the country too soon. We owe these people for making the series of mistakes that got thousands of them killed.
More than that though, we share a cultural heritage with these people. We live in a nation where the vast majority of our population claims to share the same religion as the people being wiped from the face of our planet in Assyria. People who are being killed simply for believing the same thing that most Americans also claim to believe. Which means, if ISIS had the chance… they’d kill us too. In fact, they’d kill us husbands, sell our wives into slavery, they’d kidnap our children, abuse our daughters, force our sons to fight for them and attempt to wipe out any trace of the God we love, the things we believe and the history of our forefathers.
Lastly, humanity cries out for justice.
How can we, the most affluent people living in the most powerful nation that our planet has ever seen, allow such atrocities to continue? ISIS is attempting to cleanse the planet of the Assyrian Christian population and that is a crime not just against the people of Iraq, but against humanity as well. Like it or not, as the most powerful military force on the planet and with the United Nations failure to respond, it falls to us to act as the sword of judgment and to punish ISIS for their crimes.
Our world is literally crying for justice. Now is the time to act.
The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by EagleRising.com