In an exclusive interview with independent American journalist Lee Stranahan, Syrian refugees say the attack on the predominantly Christian village of Maaloula was aided by Muslims living in the town. The revelation that their neighbors were joining with the Syrian rebel jihadists to terrorize Christians in the small village about 45 minutes north of Damacscus came as a shock to them.
For weeks in early September, the world got sketchy reports on the back and forth fighting in Maaloula, as combined Syrian rebel forces consisting of U.S. backed ‘Free Syria Army’ fighters battled next to al-Qaeda backed al-Nusra troops against Syrian goverment forces for control of the town.
The Maalourla survivors, speaking out for the first time, said that the Free Syria Army troops were as one with the al-Nusra warriors. They described in heartbreakng detail how Maaloula’s townspeople were terrorized and some killed for being Christian.
The attack began with a suicide bomber attacking the local checkpoint. One survivor said that armed Muslims were inside her house almost immediately, and held a machine gun to her husband’s head. The Islamists bragged about smashing a statue of Mary and taunted the family for their Christianity. The survivor broke down in tears describing her fear that her daughter would be raped by the men and that the family would be killed.
When the Maaloula witnesses was told that U.S Sec. of State John Kerry had referred to the FSA forces as ‘moderate’ in Senate testimony, she closed her eyes, shook her head both and forth and said “No no no no no.”
She said that she didn’t trust the press after seeing their reporting on the situation in Maaloula, which deemphasized the Islamist elements of the attack.
More details from the interview will be released in the next few days.
I planned my Middle East trip with to Sundays in the schedule because I wanted to get some sense of Middle Eastern Christiandom was like. So Sunday morning I dressed up and went to the local church, right by St. George’s Hospital.
It was pretty amazing. The service was all in Arabic (I think) and almost all sung. Men and woman, apprently from all walks of life, some dressed up but mostly dressed casual. Very devout and very serious.
(Note: I’m in Beirut, Lebanon covering the story of Christian refugees. Part 1 and Part 2 of my blogs have been published.)
I recently wrote about Alaa Mukahhal ; a foul mouthed, whiny, deceptive ‘Dreamer’ activist who’s part of a group of radical Dream activists–like Prerna Lal and Lizbeth Mateo–who constantly run down America with politically correct leftist rhetoric. Even most Dream activists can’t stand these people and I understand why. They really are depressing: people who put down America yet stamp their feet to demand their ‘right’ to be here.
While taking a cab across Beirut, I met this cab driver who LOVES America. When he found out I was American, he was very excited to tell me “America is great! Great like God is great.” He’s never been to the USA himself but his sister and parents live around New York City. His sister’s son has even built a successful restaurant business and has a nice house in New Jersey. THAT is a Dreamer..and they immigrated legally.
In this part of our conversation, the cab driver makes a great point about not the hypocrisy of complaining about America and capitalism while reaping the benefits of it. His analogy is about a well of water as an analogy for what America brings to the world. He says if you don’t want to use those things, fine; don’t drink from the well. But he doesn’t understand using those things and at the same time throwing a stone in the well.
This is the sort of person we want to immigrate to America. If you agree, please RT or SHARE this post!
It’s my first morning in Beirut. I woke up very early and got my bags unpacked. I’d been too tired on Friday night to do much of anything, although I did go out to grab some food about 1am. All I could find with a gas station store, so I got ready made chicken sandwich and it was fresh and good.
I woke up again a little before sunrise. I wanted to get my bearings, so I decided to go for a walk around my neighborhood.
This is my first time in any Middle Eastern country and I speak only English. I wanted to get my b earings, grab some breakfast and take pictures. Later in the day, I’d start contacting people and give them my Lebanese mobile number.
I ended up walking around for about five hours, with a few pitstops in coffee shops and restaurants.
At one point, I was walking on Hamra Street, which is one of the main streets in Beirut for shopping and restaurants when I was approached by some kids with shoeshine buckets. They didn’t speak English at all but I understood them saying ‘Syria’ and pointing to themselves. I don’t know for sure that they are from Syria but I know that’s what they said.
They ranged in age from 8 to 16. (I showed them pictures of my own kids and held up fingers; they got what I was doing and did the same.) I gave them some money, which made them want more money, of course. They were very persistent in an ‘experienced street kid’ way. At one point an older man came by, who they seemed to work for and they said ‘bye bye!’ to me and took off.
Here are some photos and short bits of text from the rest of the walk.
I can already see that Beirut is a city of contrasts. Battered old buildings next to new construction. From what I saw this morning, it’s also built on many levels with winding streets and huge stairs that bring you from one area to another.
Lots of interesting stuff on the walls. Many more photos coming like these to my Flickr account.
I saw a man praying at a shrine on the side of a building. I took this when he was done. You can see what is around the corner. Contrasts.
This is another street shrine for Christians to pray at. I’ve seen these a few places around Beirut.