A Catholic priest was beheaded by Syrian terrorists in a shocking public execution that was captured on video.
Franciscan Father Francois Murad was among three killed in northern Syria on Sunday after being accused of collaborating with President Bashar Assad’s regime.
Though the circumstances surrounding the 49-year-old priest’s death are still murky, the Vatican confirmed his death Monday and Father Murad he was taken from the convent for the Custody of the Holy Land, where he was hiding.
Locals said the Catholic priest was ambushed by militant Syrians linked to a jihadi group called Jabhat al-Nusra. The US government identifies the group as a terrorist organization, working in collaboration with al-Qaeda in Iraq.
A recording of the priest’s beheading was posted to the internet on Monday, showing a crowd of spectators that included two other people recording the execution with smartphones. The video showed a man identified as Murad sitting on the grass with his hands tied together. A gathers, shouting at him in Arabic.
After the Catholic priest was beheaded, onlookers moved in close to view the aftermath.
Video of the event has spread on the internet, and is also linked from Catholic Online.
Archbishop Jacques Behnan Hindo, titular of the Syrian Catholic Archeparchy in Hassaké-Nisibis, said Father Francois Murad knew he was at risk of being killed but did not want to back down from his mission of promoting peace in Syria.
“Lately, father Murad sent me some messages that clearly showed how conscious he was of living in a dangerous situation, and offered his life for peace in Syria and around the world,” Hindo told Fides News Agency.
The Vatican noted that Murad traveled to the area to help build a monastery
“After the start of the Civil War, the monastery of St. Simon had been bombed and Fr. Murad had moved to the convent of the Custody for safety reasons and to give support to the remaining few, along with another religious and nuns of the Rosary.”
Custody of the Holy Land Pierbattista Pizzaballa OFM called for prayer that the “absurd and shameful war ends soon and that the people of Syria can go back to living a normal life.”
Pizzaballa also attacked the US and other countries supporting the rebels against Syrian President Bashar Assad.
“Unfortunately Syria has now become a battleground not only between Syrian forces, but also between Arab countries and the international community.”
A site hosting video of the Catholic priest being beheaded by Syrian terrorists accused him of collaborating with the Assad regime. That claim has not been corroborated.