Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Tuesday 03 August |
Saint of the Day: St. Martin
home iconNews
line break icon

Franciscan Kidnapped by Jihadists in Syria Released but Under “House Arrest”

Christians Orient

Aleteia - published on 10/09/14 - updated on 06/08/17

Father Jallouf is reported to be restricted by local Islamic court

Father Hanna Jallouf, the Franciscan parish priest kidnapped on Sunday night by a group of armed militants of the jihadist faction Jabhat al-Nusra, has been released, according to Fides news agency.

But the pastor has been placed under "house arrest" at St. Joseph’s Friary in the village of Qunyeh, according to a brief statement issued by the Custody of the Holy Land. Local sources told Fides that the measure was ordered by "the Islamic Court."

In addition, several women who were among the group of local parishioners kidnapped with Father Jallouf, were let go.

"We know that he is well, and this is important, but there is no news of the release of the men who were kidnapped with him," said Bishop Georges Abou Khazen, Patriarchal Vicar of Aleppo for the Catholics of the Latin rite.

Agence France-Presse on Tuesday reported that Qunyeh is a village of several hundred people in Idlib province, and lies some five miles from the Turkish border.

The French news agency quoted Franciscan Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Custos of the Holy Land, as saying the 62-year-old Syrian priest, who has worked in Qunyeh for 12 years after serving in Amman, Jordan, was seized along with 20 villagers.

“They are accusing them of being collaborators” with the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, he said, insisting that this was not true.

AFP learned from  a source linked to the Franciscan Order in Aleppo that Al-Nusra rebels had forced their way into the friary and “looted everything.” The source said Al-Nusra rebels were “angry with Father Hanna because he refused to give them some of the olives harvested from trees on the convent’s [friary’s] land.”

Al-Nusra Front, which fights alongside rebels battling Assad’s regime, is the Syrian branch of Al-Qaeda.

The AFP report continued:

… a local Syrian activist said Al-Nusra had been trying to take charge of part of the Franciscan properties in Qunyeh, prompting Father Hanna to make a complaint to a religious court late last week. 

Al-Nusra rebels had seized control of many different Christian and Muslim villages in the area in the past few years, he said.

Local sources confirm that the kidnappers were armed, Fides said. So far, they have not sent any messages to the hostages’ relatives and friends. 

This Holy Land Review has more background on Father Jallouf:

Even before the official confirmations, the news of the abduction of Father Jallouf and the Christians of  Knayeh began to spread from many 
Facebook pages in Arabic as of yesterday. The rumours – at the moment not confirmed – that follow on in quick succession say that the terrorists of 
Al Nusra went to Father Hanna demanding a sort of tax. Then they are alleged to have stolen documents and stamps of the parish and taken the priest before the Islamic court of Darkush, just north of Knayeh [Qunyeh].

Bishop Abou Khazen said after the release of the four women who had been held in captivity with Father Hanna that the kidnappers did not ask them any questions. He spoke of the esteem that many Syrians have for the Catholic community of Qunyeh, singling out Sister Patrizia Guarino, of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

"Sister Patrizia is venerated by all," said Bishop Abou Khazen. "She is the village nurse, and everyone sees her as a spiritual guide, who helps to heal not only diseases, but also the suffering of the soul"

Christians in the Middle EastIslamIslamist MilitantsSyria
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Saint Mary of the Angels
Bret Thoman, OFS
All your sins will be forgiven if you go to a Franciscan church o...
Ignacio María Doñoro
Francisco Veneto
The military chaplain who pretended to be a criminal to rescue a ...
Theresa Civantos Barber
The one thing we all should do before this summer ends
Violeta Tejera
Carlo Acutis’ first stained glass window in jeans and sneak...
Cerith Gardiner
Gold-winning Filipina Olympian shares her Miraculous Medal for th...
Ary Waldir Ramos Diaz
1st Feast of Our Lady of Silence is August 1
Cerith Gardiner
Simone Biles leaves the Olympics with an important lesson for her...
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.